Friday, September 26, 2014

Can The 69th UN General Assembly Be Different?

Yuba Nath Lamsal
The heads of state and government from across the globe are now gathered at the United Nations headquarters in downtown Manhattan, New York, to debate issues facing the globe at the 69th UN General Assembly. As years pass by, the world sees new challenges and crises, and every year at the UN General Assembly, the world leaders promise to provide a better solution. But, much to the dismay of the people, the UN jamboree concludes with cosmetic rhetoric without any concrete steps to address the problems facing the global community. As a result, the world continues to suffer from multiple challenges.
The United Nations General Assembly is, perhaps, the only global forum in which all member states, irrespective of their physical size, economic strength and military might, enjoy equal rights and say. All leaders are given equal time to speak while participating in the debate on several topics. The annual high-level debate, which officially kicked off on September 23, has numerous issues and agendas for discussion.

Climate change agenda
However, the looming threat of climate change has been the key issue upon which leaders of the world’s more than 140 countries have already spent a day focusing on this pressing global issue. Given the unprecedented challenges and threats to humanity emanating from the growing climate change, mainly caused by the unsustainable human activities in the name of development, the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon personally took initiative and proposed a one-day debate ahead of the UN General Assembly session, aimed at drawing the attention of global leaders to work more for the environment and ecological conservation and save humanity from a possible climate change disaster. For this the secretary general definitely deserves a big applause and acclamation.

Prime Minister Sushil Koirala and Foreign Minister Mahendra Bahadur Pandey, participating in the debate called the UN Climate Change-2014 Conference, notably raised the problems faced mainly by the developing countries due to environmental degradation, global warming and climate change, which are largely the making of the developed and emerging economies of the world. Prime Minister Koirala’s particular concern was the impact of climate change on the Himalayan ecosystem, which is the lifeline of more than a fifth of world’s humanity. The Himalaya has come under tremendous threat due to climate change, which will have a direct impact on the rain pattern, water flow of the rivers and agricultural productivity in the entire South Asia region.

Experts are of the view that the negative impact of climate change has already been visible in the Himalaya and South Asia as water sources are drying up, the flow of the rivers has become uneven, rain pattern has changed and glaciers are melting at a faster pace. South Asia is now seeing more natural disasters in the form of flash floods and landslides mainly due to degradation of the Himalayan ecosystem.

The share of the developing countries in environmental destruction, global warming and climate change is minimal, but they are the ones which have suffered the most. The developed countries are primarily responsible for global warming and climate change as their activities are unsustainable and environmental unfriendly. The Western developed
countries have been exploiting nature more than it can sustain. The capitalist production system of the Western world is guided by unlimited profits, which nature with its limited resources cannot sustain.

It is estimated that 15 per cent of the people of the global north have access to and control over 85 per cent of the world's resources, while 85 per cent people mostly living in the global south survive on less than 15 per cent of the resources. While the developed world dumps a huge quantity of surplus food into the sea, a large chunk of the population in the
developing and least developed countries suffer from hunger and malnutrition.
This uneven distribution of wealth and resources must be brought to an end and a new mechanism devised to ensure that all will have access to food and resources that alone will ensure equitable development. This should, perhaps, be the key agenda of the UN General Assembly. The United Nations is expected to devise a mechanism requiring the developed countries, which benefit from over exploitation of the natural resources at the expense of the larger mankind, to pay compensation in the form of increased aid volume for sustainable social, economic and ecological development of the developing countries.

However, foreign aid is being termed as merciful endowment of the Western countries. In
fact, it should be made mandatory for every developed country to commit and give at least 10 per cent of their GDP for the development of the developing countries as compensation for plundering and exploiting the resources of the developing countries in the past. However, this is less likely to figure prominently in the UN General Assembly because most of the developing countries are, unfortunately, not united and also not in a mood to antagonise the Western powers. As a result, the 69th UN General Assembly may not be different from the previous ones.

The world is now in a perilous condition in terms of peace. Although the United Nations has been able to prevent another world war, which was one key objective of this global organisation when it was formed, scores of wars have broken out in different parts of the world in which more people have been killed than the number of people killed in the two world wars. Ironically, the same world powers that created the United Nations in the aftermath of the devastating World War II are in one way or the other involved in these wars, which is a matter of utmost concern for all peace loving people in the world.
Now peace is elusive, development is deformed, international cooperation is selective and democracy and human rights are mere showcase commodities in the world due mainly to the double standard and hypocrisy of some Western powers. As a result, the United Nations, too, is just a toothless tiger which only barks but cannot bite when injustice takes place in the world. The United Nations is unable to act because the global body is too dependent on the Western powers for funds and resources.

Moreover, the decision of the General Assembly is not binding as the executive body is the Security Council, which has been dominated by the five big powers called the permanent members, namely the United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia and China. Any proposal that is against the interest of these five permanent members cannot be adopted as the UN Charter has given them veto power that can undo the entire exercise of the United Nations. If the United Nations is to be made a really effective body, the organisational structure of the UN Security Council needs to change, with more representation of the other regions and continents and the veto power ended.
No better alternative
It is against this background that the 69th UN General Assembly has started, but it is not expected to make any decision having far-reaching consequences. Despite its inability to act to address the problems facing the world, the United Nations is still at the center stage of global politics, and it is more so during the period of its General Assembly that takes place between September and November when world leaders, accompanied by their delegates and over 2,000 media personnel, rub their shoulders in the UN headquarters. This is because there is no better alternative to the United Nations. And we cannot imagine a world without the United Nations in the present global context.

Are China and India coming closer?

Yuba Nath Lamsal
Chinese President Xi Jinping wrapped up South and Central Asia trip recently, of which Xi’s India visit was taken with much interest, enthusiasm and caution in Nepal. During Xi’s visit to India, some ground breaking developments took place which will go down as a milestone event in the history of China’s relations with India and also in the entire South Asia.
Indian and Chinese politicians and analysts have described Xi’s India visit and agreement reached in New Delhi for mutual cooperation and benefits as a dawn of new era in the history of Sino-India bilateral relations.  During the three day visit to India, China pledged to invest billions of dollars in India’s infrastructure development projects including construction of high-speed railway, industrial parks and upgrading India’s moribund railway system. Apart from this, China and India have agreed for a strategic partnership on issues of mutual interests and benefits.
It is now expected that China and India would dispel apprehension about one another but cooperate in the mutually agreed fields that would benefit both the countries and the people of India and China. Xi’s visit and agreements reached during his visit is being analyzed as Narendra Modi’s brilliant diplomatic triumph whereas it was China’s diplomatic shrewdness to enlarge its influence in South Asia and reach out to world’s more than one-fifth humanity that lives in South Asia. On the surface, India got assurance from China much needed investment that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had been desperately seeking. It Modi rose to India’s political central stage and became prime minister with numerous promises to the people including creation of more jobs, upgrading the outdated infrastructure to cope with the pace of technological revolution with which the world is marching ahead. Narendra Modi has a tremendous challenge to keep his promises made to Indian voters during the election. However, India’s resources alone are not sufficient to meet these challenges and promises. Thus Modi is desperately seeking Chinese investment and cooperation, for which he has been successful to some extent.
With this objective in mind Modi has been cleverly wooing countries so that India could get more investment and resources for India’s modernization and development. While trying to keep South Asia under New Delhi’s influence, Modi visited Nepal and Bhutan where he used sugar quoted words to appease Nepalese and Bhutanese. India’s main concerns in Nepal and Bhutan are security and water resources, for which Modi has adopted different strategy and approach in both of these countries so that India could use water resources of Nepal and Bhutan for the benefit of India.
While dealing with China Modi tried to play different cards—persuading and pressurizing. He tried to woo Xi Jinping and China by praising Beijing’s model of development and opening up Indian market for Chinese trade and also investment. The opening up Nathu La Pass for border trade and travel all the way to Mansarovar is yet another policy gesture that India and China have demonstrated for the interest of both the countries. China will definitely benefit as it would facilitate border trade between India’s Sikkim state and China’s Tibet Autonomous Region. India will benefit from the opening the Nathu La Pass because it will reduce time, cost and energy for Indian citizens willing to travel to Mansarovar for pilgrimage purpose. This a win-win proposition for both the countries. At the same time, Modi entered into an agreement with Japan for investment in India’s infrastructure development project had indirectly exerted pressure on China to get engaged more in India. In this Modi has been successful as China’s has promised to pour billions of dollars in India’s infrastructure development.
But we still have to watch and see other arrangements that these two countries have announced during President Xi’s visit to India will really materialize in a way they have promised. China has announced tens of billions dollar investment in India and help in upgrading railway system and construction of two industrial parks in Gujarat and Maharastra. However, the implementation of agreements will depend upon how India and China resolve other issues and disputes. There is a more room for doubt on India’s intention as New Delhi is often seen to be provoking certain issues, perhaps, at the behest of some extra-regional and extra-continental powers. Even during Xi’s visit, Indian media unnecessarily continued China bashing spree as they reported that Chinese troops encroached into Indian territory in Laddakh, which was later found to be unfounded. Similarly, India deliberately allowed the so-called Tibetan refugees to protest in New Delhi against China during XI’s visit. Had India genuinely committed to check anti-China activities, such protests would not have been allowed.
China is interested to engage itself in South Asia and wants to support and energize South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (Saarc). The Saarc, so far, has remained to be a ‘poor men’s club’ due to lack of sufficient fund and has been unable to realize its goals. China has resources and willingness to help the Saarc, for which Beijing wants full membership of this South Asian regional grouping. All other members of the Saarc members are positive to bring China into the Saarc as a full member. But it is India that has opposed this proposition. Even during Xi’s India visit, China sought support for membership of the Saarc, and in return, Beijing will do its best to grant India a membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). However, India still does not seem to be positive, which demonstrates the fact that New Delhi is not sincere in its words and its rhetoric is only for public consumption but not for action. Thus, it is not certain that everything that agreed during Xi’s visit will be translated into action.
China and India are world’s most populous countries. China and India together have world’s almost 40 per cent population. If they cooperate with good intention and with sincerity and act accordingly, the world would revolve around them. China is a global power whereas India is Asian power. Thus, their cooperation is necessary for making Asia as the powerhouse of 21st century. Beijing has offered its olive branch but it all depends on India how it responds and what kind of Asia it wants to make. If China and India cooperate with one another in a sincere and genuine manner, Asia will definitely be a power of 21st century and if not, it will continue to be a dependant region on European and American powers.
However, both these countries have expressed their commitment to regional and global peace as well as common development and prosperity will bring real benefit not only to their combined 2.5 billion people, but also to those living beyond their borders, which provides hopes that a better and brighter future lie ahead for Asians in general and South Asians in particular.

As China is India’s largest trading partner and India is China’s largest trading partner in South Asia, both of these countries are required to settle all disputes and focus more on economic cooperation and enlarge their trade volume which would benefit for both the countries as well as South Asia. The long-running dispute between China and India is concerning the border. However, Chinese President has candidly put forth that they should not let the border issue affect their bilateral relations whereas Indian Prime Minister responded with the remarks that India was willing to work with China to advance negotiations in find a solution at an early date.
Now it is time that India and China give up past rivalry and animosity and start working afresh to begin a new era of cooperation and neighborly relations. President Xi’s visit has provided an ample opportunity to advance the spirit of good neighborly relations in appositive manner for which both the countries are required to demonstrate more sincerity and flexibility. But the solution cannot be found keeping the problems under carpet. Thus, all the problems and disputes need to be brought to table and negotiate taking the larger interest of both the countries.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Chinese Dream, Chinese Diplomacy

Chinese Dream, Chinese Diplomacy
Yuba Nath Lamsal[1]
The Chinese Dream is, perhaps, the most significant and visible concept and proposition Xi Jinping has envisioned both at home and in the international arena since he assumed China’s leadership as President as well as the General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Xi was elected as general secretary of the CCP in November 2012 and President of China in March 2013. Soon after assuming China’s leadership, President Xi announced the Chinese Dream and described it as a vision of "national rejuvenation, improvement of people’s livelihoods, prosperity, construction of a better society and military strengthening". At the same time, China’s new leadership has construed a new world outlook which is being interpreted as Beijing’s world dream that calls for building a harmonious world.  China has, therefore, remolded and remodeled its strategic thoughts and policy through a number of innovations and developments in the domain of international relations and diplomacy to achieve the goal of building harmonious world and ensuring lasting peace and common prosperity in the neighborhood, in the region and in the world. These are the concepts that seek to revive Chinese nation with enhanced social and economic status of its people and also envisage a newer approach for international peace, cooperation and security with the best use of China’s soft power and its astute diplomacy. The world dream is an extension of the Chinese Dream, which sums of everything that China has initiated, achieved and accomplished over the last one year under the new leadership of President Xi and Prime Minister Li Keqiang.
A Global Soft Power
From the time immemorial, China has always been a power to reckon with in the international arena. With considerable economic clout, inventions and innovative approaches in multiple sectors, rich cultural and intellectual contribution to world civilizations and its peaceful and cooperative world view, China is equipped with plenty of tools to portray itself as a better positioned soft power. In the 18th century, China alone had accounted almost a third of global GDP. Establishing contact and relationship with China and getting its recognition had been a matter of pride and prestige for many Asian and European powers and countries. Way back in 1873, Britain, a principal industrializing power in Europe, sent her emissary with valuable gifts consisting mainly of its manufacturing goods to the court of China seeking to establish an embassy in Chinese capital. However, with much humbleness, the Emperor Qianlong replied to Britain’s king George III saying: “Your sincere humility and obedience can clearly be seen but we do not have the slightest need for your country’s manufactures”[i]. This manifests China’s historic glory and stance in the world in the late 19th century. However, with internal strife, wrangling and its resultant instability creeping into the royal court of Beijing, China’s strength got slowly diminished in course of time. And the same British returned to China in the 1830s with opium and gunboats to force trade open that gave birth to series of external interventions and bully of western powers to expose the ‘Middle Kingdom’ to the brink of collapse by 20th century.
Rejuvenating Chinese Renaissance
The national humiliation that China suffered in the 19th and 20th century had left deep scars in the hearts and mind of the Chinese people. However, from the rubble of national disgrace rose again the wave of patriotic sentiment far and wide in China under the banner of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the birth of which had been on July 1, 1921, that triumphantly won a victory against both external aggressors and their reactionary lackeys at home in 1949 to establish the People’s Republic of China. On October 1, 1949 Mao Zedong, who physically and ideologically led the party and the revolution, declared from the podium in the Tiananmen Square, ‘China has stood up’.  Truly indeed, China has stood up firmly and has, since then, been moving resolutely ahead never to look back again. In the tumultuous journey of 65 years with the triumph of people’s power for nation building, China has made a stunning progress to convert itself from an impoverished nation to a prosperous country and a world power. Hundreds of millions Chinese people have been lifted out of poverty over the last few years, thanks to its founding fathers mainly Mao Zedong and all five generations of leadership. China’s global influence is expanding and its economy is expected to overtake that of the United States, possibly, within next decade.[ii]
While Mao laid the foundation of modern China, Deng Xiaoping came in to give a new dimension to China’s history with the image of an architect of China’s prosperity. The later generations of leadership like Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao, too, gave continuity to Deng’s vision but with innovations and added impetus that have left an indelible mark on the history of China. President Xi, apart from giving continuity to reform process initiated way back in 1978, appears to be determined to add a new and markedly unique dimension to China’s history as Xi era. In his first weeks in power as the General Secretary of the CCP and country’s president, Xi Jinping proclaimed a new ethos of the Chinese Dream followed by an international vision for better China and a better world. Some China watchers and analysts tend to liken the Chinese Dream as a copycat of ‘American Dream’ popularized way back in 1930s in the United States with the ethos ‘life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement’[iii]. However, the Chinese Dream that President Xi has announced is not a copycat version of American Dream but has its own roots and origin in China and existed in Chinese culture for centuries. China is a cradle of civilization with many of the world’s inventions and innovations having been made and developed in China when the Anglo-Americans were in a primitive stage.  The Chinese Dream is, therefore, President Xi’s pet project to revive the old glory of peaceful, prosperous and powerful Chinese nation that matters a lot not only within China but will have a far-reaching impact in the global scale.  It is a path to a more prosperous and equitable society, and an optimism about the future. The Chinese Dream is also not what some Western pundits tend to describe as a well calculated design to project China’s power abroad. This is a well-thought concept for creating environment for peaceful development at home and atmosphere conducive for collective initiatives and cooperation in the international arena. In other words this is a vision for building a culture of cooperation in the international arena on win-win basis and without any string attached to contribute to well-being of less fortunate people in the world, which, in turns, would contribute to creating an equitable, just and peaceful world. The 18th Congress of the CCP has explained in clearer terms that China will unswervingly follow the path of peaceful development and the Chinese Dream is its practical realization.
Chinese Dream, Asian Dream
The Chinese Dream has had visible implications in the international arena including in its neighborhood. In the period of one year since President Xi came up with the powerful narrative to express the Chinese zeitgeist, the new leadership in Beijing has been busy in reconnecting the spirit of reforms that China has initiated for over three decades with the world especially in the neighborhood and the developing countries. The Chinese Dream is, of course, a proposition to raise people’s living condition and enable them to live a dignified life at par with some moderately developed countries in the neighborhood by 2020, when China would be celebrating the centenary of the foundation of the Chinese Communist Party and upgrade China to the status of developed countries of the world by 2049, the year that would mark the 100th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. The new leadership in China is of the firm belief that its prosperity will be meaningless if its neighbors remain mired in poverty and backwardness. Poverty and backwardness are the breeding ground for instability, conflict, war and terrorism, which will ultimately have spillover effect also across the border of other countries. The Chinese leadership seems to be well aware of this scenario and possible consequences in China when its neighbors are afflicted with poverty and its resultant social unrests. The Chinese Dream, thus, envisions a mechanism for cooperation in the international arena so that its friends and neighbors, too, benefit from this great vision of prosperity and development. It is against this backdrop, China has come up with the slogan of ‘Chinese Dream: Asian Dream’ in order to connect the entire Asia with this vision and create a cozy Asian community with common oriental culture and civilization.
China’s world dream
The Chinese Dream is not a new concept and phenomenon as this had always been in the heart and mind of Chinese people throughout history. While this is China’s dream and national renaissance at home with particular focus on peaceful development and raising people’s living condition, this ethos is understood as the world outlook of new Chinese leadership and a world dream to create a harmonious world that visualizes achieving lasting peace and common prosperity. This has had a great significance on the sphere of international diplomacy as President Xi Jinping has clearly put forth his grand world vision with ‘neighbor first’ policy, and sought, with fresh vigor and zeal, to reconnect Chinese outlook and approach of development and international diplomacy with the broader Asian culture of greater reawakening of human, social and community values against the onslaught of Western notion of individualism. This is a vision of self-consciousness for wider societal well-being based on collective approach. The Chinese Dream in the international front is peace against war, cooperation instead of conflict and collectivism against individualism. This is not what some Western pundits often equate with China’s ambition of cultural and economic hegemony. History is witness that China has never had any appetite for territorial gains not has it ever pursued an ambition of hegemony, interference. It has always sought to maintain peaceful and cooperative relations with other countries in the world and China’s new leadership has just asserted it over the period of last one year, which is the crux of its world dream and world vision. The developments and hectic diplomatic initiatives over the last one-plus year since the new leadership assumed China’s leadership are directed towards connecting the world with its message of peace and brotherhood. Connectivity is, thus, key to fostering more exchanges, interactions and partnership, which Beijing has taken as a mantra throughout history. Exchanges, interactions and partnership have been the bases of international diplomacy of China throughout history. In late 14th and early 15th century, a Chinese businessman cum adventurer Zheng He led west bound trading fleets several times, carrying the message of goodwill, peace and friendship. His mission had succeeded to establish China’s goodwill contacts and relations with more than 30 countries in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, whereas some western countries that now boast of their superiority in human prosperity and development were either totally locked in sectarian conflict or busy in petite mercantilism. It is guided by this purpose of connecting the world and creating a ‘one world and harmonious world’ that the Chinese built the Silk Road linking China with central and western Asia and Europe. The Silk Road was the road for peaceful cooperation. Under the Chinese Dream, the new leadership in Beijing is effortful not only to revive the old Silk Road but also further expanding and extending it to connect with wider areas in Asia, Europe and Africa.
Peaceful co-existence
Chinese people are aware more than anybody else in the world as to how painful and disgraceful is the foreign intervention and invasion as they suffered humiliation and bullying at the hands of foreign invaders. Thus, peace is most precious for the Chinese people. China is, thus, against any kind of interference and hegemonic behavior in anywhere in the world. The stunning progress that China has achieved over the last three-plus decades since reforms and opening up were introduced is also the manifestation of Chinese people’s endeavor and desire for the pursuit of peaceful development. Peace and prosperity are interconnected. Chinese people seem to be fully aware that peace is a must for prosperity in the country, in the region and in the world. It is against this background that China along with some other Asian countries got so deeply involved in drawing a blueprint of principles of handling foreign relations and international cooperation, which are globally known and hailed as the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence or the Panchasheel. In a keynote speech at a conference organized in Beijing to mark the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence on June 28, 2014,  in which Myanmar’s President U Thein Sein and Indian Vice President Hamid Ansari were also present, President Xi reiterated  China’s adherence to its ideals in conducting diplomacy and  said “the notion of dominating international affairs belongs to a different age, and such an attempt is doomed to failure[iv]China strictly adheres to these Five Principles of conducting foreign policy and international cooperation which include: mutual respect for each other's territorial integrity and sovereignty; mutual non-aggression; non-interference in each other's internal affairs; equality and cooperation for mutual benefit; and peaceful co-existence. President Xi further noted: "Considering the development trend and China’s fundamental interests, it is a strategic choice to stick to a peaceful development path. We Chinese people believe in the idea of, ‘Do not do to others what you do not want to be done to yourself.’ And we don’t agree that a strong country will always seek hegemony, as Chinese people have never sought hegemony[v]”. The present leadership in China is more determined to strive for development in a peaceful global environment and also to promote world peace through self-development and meaningful cooperation and sharing of knowledge and experiences among the comity of nations.  This is what the Chinese vision seeks to achieve and promote in the present interlinked and interconnected world.  The Chinese world vision is, therefore, a dream for fostering a common global comity with effective sharing of values, knowledge, experiences and prosperity, capital and technology. It will benefit the Chinese people and the humanity at large.  Under this grand vision, China, apart from bilateral mechanism for augmenting mutual cooperation, is seriously effortful in fostering new regional mechanism and reshaping the older ones for bilateral, regional and international cooperation.  In the process of creating regional and international cooperation mechanism, China has already created China-Africa Cooperation Forum, China-Arab Cooperation Forum and is working out to create such forums in the East Asia and the Pacific region, South Asia, South and Central America, Central Asia and Europe. These forums seek to carry out comprehensive and meaningful cooperation characterizing mutual and shared benefits with all countries and regions that are willing to build such mechanisms. In addition to its positive role and stance in the United Nations and several other international forums for the cause of the developing countries, multi-lateral diplomacy, world peace and the just world order, China’s initiatives in creating different international cooperation mechanisms have been wholeheartedly appreciated by the global community. The creation of New Development Bank (NDB), also called as BRICS bank, and the mechanism for contingent reserve arrangement (CRA) are yet other landmarks in fostering international cooperation and augmenting development endeavors.  'The BRICS bloc has a special responsibility to help the world achieve its goal of ending extreme poverty, reducing inequality and achieving sustainable development, as its member states collectively face some of the world's greatest challenges and have made great achievements in these areas’ [vi]. Headquartered in Shanghai, the NDB aims at facilitating fund for bigger projects not only in BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) but also in other cash-strapped developing countries in Asia, Africa, South and Latin America. In creating international cooperation organizations like BRICS and Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), China’s role and initiatives were crucial. These are all parts of the overarching goals and objectives of Chinese diplomacy set forth by the Chinese Dream, which seeks to further strengthen these mechanisms and arrangements for the larger interest of both China and the world.
Focus On Neighborhood Diplomacy
While the Chinese Dream seeks to strengthen and deepen China’s pragmatic cooperation with the rest of the world, it has laid especial emphasis on enhanced cooperation with the neighbors. The year 2013 was the new Chinese leadership’s first year in conducting neighborhood diplomacy and 2014 has been its continuity. The new Chinese leadership has realized with more clarity that maintaining a peaceful and stable neighborhood is necessary for China's development and also for the countries in the region. As good neighborhood policy is necessary for regional stability and world peace, China has vigorously advanced its neighborhood diplomacy with new concepts, new expressions and new initiatives followed by several important events to ensure that neighbors, too, benefit from China’s growth and prosperity. President Xi, while directing the Foreign Ministry to evolve new friendly political, economic and security cooperation policies to tie the neighboring nations with China, said "we must strive to make our neighbors more friendly in politics, economically more closely tied to us, and we must have deeper security cooperation and closer people-to-people ties”. After assuming the leadership of the CCP and the government, President Xi visited neighboring countries including Russia, South Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, while Prime Minister Li was busy in visiting several other neighboring countries including India, Pakistan, Thailand, Brunei and Vietnam. President Xi chose Russia as the destination of his first foreign visit and Prime Minister Le began his foreign trip from India, which manifests more priority to the neighbors or ‘neighbor first policy’. Similarly, Beijing hosted a flurry of dignitaries from the neighboring countries over the last one and a half year. China’s basic tenet of diplomacy with neighbors has been to treat them, irrespective of their physical size and level of development, as friends and partners; make them feel safe; and help them develop based on win-win reciprocity and through ‘accurately identifying convergence points for cooperation; making use of China's advantages in economy, trade, technology, and finance and actively taking part in regional economic cooperation’[vii]. While proposing a ‘series of strategic concepts aimed at promoting regional prosperity and development, including a Silk Road Economic Belt with Central Asian countries; an SCO development bank; and a 21st-century maritime Silk Road ; and a scheme called ‘Southeast Asian countries for more concerted approach in building partnership with the ASEAN and its members in building a China-ASEAN community of common destiny’’[viii], China’s initiative for ‘Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia’ (CICA) is yet another project under China’s neighborhood diplomacy that seeks to create a broad Asian community—much larger and broader than the present ASEAN Regional Forum. China has also proposed setting up the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, a new multilateral bank to fund for development projects in Asia.
With prediction that 21st century would belong to Asia, China is determined to make it a reality though greater and meaningful cooperation among the countries in Asia. If realized, Chinese Dream and its international diplomacy will not only reinforce China’s leadership in the world but also benefit its neighbors as the Chinese Dream is also an Asian dream and global dream for peaceful, better, and more prosperous world based on oriental values. The initiatives and actions that China has envisioned and advanced have clearly demonstrated that China's image and intention for peaceful development and prosperous co-existence in the world in general and in the neighborhood in particular would definitely triumph and contribute immensely to  the larger cause of building a harmonious neighborhood, stable region and peaceful world.

[1] Yuba Nath Lamsal is a Kathmandu-based journalist, media consultant and analyst.

[i] The Economist:
[ii] Xinhua Net
[iii] (The American Dream-Library Of Congress)
[iv] The Economist-China’s Peripheral diplomacy:
[v] The Global Times:
[vi]  China Daily:
[vii] ibid
[viii] China Daily:

Constitution Writing And Its Hurdles

Yuba Nath Lamsal
The constitution writing process is in progress in the Constituent Assembly. On the surface, all political parties seemed to be serious and committed to completing the constitution writing process within the calendar fixed by the Constituent Assembly and having it promulgated it by the end of January next year. However, it is still not certain that the constitution will be delivered within the period of one year since the first meeting of the second Constituent Assembly was held.  The political parties had promised during the second Constituent Assembly election held November last year that they would deliver the new constitution within one year.
 So far, the Political Dialogue Committee of the Constituent Assembly, which has been mandated to resolve all the contentious issues concerning the new constitution, has settled more than 90 per cent issues, most of which are non controversial upon which agreement had also been reached in the first Constituent Assembly. However, the first Constituent Assembly saw its unceremonious demise as parties failed to agree on two key issues namely federalism and the forms of the governance. Despite some reservations, political parties had compromised and agreed on the forms of government as well and it had been agreed for a mixed type of governance model, which is akin to French model with directly elected president and Prime Minister to be elected by parliament. However, parties continued to lock horn on the nature of federalism and number of federal states.
Even now almost all issues have been finalized. Political parties have demonstrated some degree of flexibility on the form of governance. Now only one contentious issue is left that is concerning federalism. This is exactly the similar situation that prevailed prior to the dissolution of the first Constituent Assembly. Now this is the time of crucial test for political parties how they pass this test and deliver to the satisfaction of the people. Only time will tell whether parties will live op to popular expectations and pass in the eyes of the people.
The political parties have, in principle, agreed for federalism. The Interim Constitution has clearly stated that Nepal will be a federal democratic country, which means the parties cannot return to unitary form of state. But different parties have different agenda and stance on the issue of federalism. The UCPN-Maoist claims to be the mother of federalism in Nepal, which is true to certain extent. It is the UCPN-Maoist that first raised the issue of federalism and it pushed this agenda so vigorously that other parties, too, had to ultimately agree on this issue. The Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML were not prepared to accept federalism in the beginning as they were of the view that small country like Nepal did not need federalism. However, the Maoists made federalism as their prestige issue, which was later accepted by the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML to end armed insurgency.
The Nepali Congress, CPN-UML and the Maoists were the principal political forces during the Jana Andolan II that overthrew king’s absolute regime heralding a new era of republican set up, federalism, secularism and inclusive democracy. The Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML had definitely made sacrifice, to some extent, even by compromising some of their ideals and stances to herald this situation. Until then the Nepali Congress had been a monarchical party that supported constitutional monarchy. Democracy and constitutional monarchy had been two fundamental pillars of the Nepali Congress ideology. Nepali Congress had to abandon the agenda of constitutional monarchy and embrace republican system after the king repeatedly betrayed the country and people.
Being a communist party, the CPN-UML is a republican party and its agenda had always been a republic system right from the beginning. But it accepted constitutional monarchy in 1990 as a compromise for political change because the Nepali Congress until then had been staunch supporter of the constitutional monarchy. The CPN-UML happily accepted the republican set up in 2005 when the seven party alliance and the insurgent Maoists reached an agreement to start peace process in Nepal. But federalism was still not its agenda.
The 12-point agreement reached between the seven party alliance and the insurgent Maoists was a compulsion as both sides had to compromise certain things. The seven parliamentary parties were so desperate and helpless that they were prepared to do anything to teach the king a fitting lesson. Their anti-king demonstrations had very little impact on the streets. Leaders of the Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML in general and Girija Prasad Koirala in particular had arrived at a conclusion that their strength alone was not sufficient to bring down the king’s regime and restore democracy.  And they thought that it was an opportune time to have an alliance with the Maoists that would kill two birds with one stone. The 12-agreement reached between parliamentary parties and the Maoists served two purposes simultaneously as it succeeded to overthrow the king’s absolute regime and also paved the ground for ending the armed insurgency in Nepal.
 The UCPN-Maoist, too, was not in a position to move beyond the ‘strategic equilibrium’—the state in which position of both sides was equal. The Maoists, too, were convinced that they were also not in a position to defeat the government troops. Its fighting force had been declining as they were finding it difficult to get new recruits in their “People’s Liberation Army”. Moreover, the Maoists had legitimacy crisis and they were desperately trying to seek international recognition, for which the alliance and agreement with parliamentary parties like Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML was necessary. These circumstances compelled the Maoists to enter into agreement with the seven-party alliance.
While 12-point agreement was a compulsion for parliamentary parties as well as the insurgent Maoists, the Comprehensive Peace Agreement was a win-win for both sides. It was an agreement that was signed following the condition of their victory against feudal and tyrannical monarchy. After the success of Jana Andolan, the monarchy was virtually sent to coma with no power to exercise and no recognition and no respect from the public and was ultimately abolished after the election of the Constituent Assembly.
The Jana Andolan II was, thus, a historic opportunity and achievement for the Nepalese people as it not only heralded republic and inclusive democracy but also dawned a new era of peace by ending the decade long armed insurgency. The achievements of Jana Andolan II could be formally institutionalized only when the new constitution was promulgated. Thus, the writing of the new constitution and its early promulgation were necessary, for which political parties and their representatives in the Constituent Assembly need to expedite their works. As some key issues are yet to be resolved, the parties are required to demonstrate maximum flexibility and make compromise on issues like federalism and forms of governance taking into account the larger interest of the country and the people.