Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Nepal’s Diplomatic Renaissance

Yuba Nath Lamsal
In the anal of history, the period under the Malla dynasty is a national renaissance particularly in the areas of art, architecture, trade and diplomacy. Nepal takes pride in the superiority of art and architecture of the Malla period. Most national heritages and brilliant art works of Kathmandu Valley are the creation and contribution of the Malla period. Similarly, Nepal, during the Malla period, was economically prosperous due primarily to its trade with Tibet. The economic prosperity had also enlarged Nepal’s political and diplomatic clout in all its vicinity. But this clout faded after Yaksha Malla divided his kingdom into different states among his sons and daughters. All the economic activities and trade with Tibet were then limited to the three kingdoms of the Kathmandu Valley. The relationship with Tibet was based on trade while relationship with China was more of a political nature.
Exchange of missions
There is one particular incident of historic significance in Nepal’s diplomatic relations with China and Tibet. During the reign of Jayabhimdev Malla, a team of Nepali artists led by Balabahu (Araniko) was sent on a project to Tibet and China at the request of Chinese Emperor Kublai Khan. According to Satyamohan Joshi, Araniko reached Lhasa in 1260, where he accomplished the task of building a golden pagoda style monastery in 1261. Upon reaching Peking in 1264, Chinese Emperor Kublai Khan, impressed by his genius, appointed Araniko in the imperial service with the responsibility of supervising the construction of temples and pagodas in China. Araniko soon became famous in China and his talent and reputation enhanced the image of Nepal, thus, leaving a significant imprint in the diplomatic history of Nepal. The relations between Nepal and China remained cordial and friendly for many years, which were marked by exchanges of missions and gifts between them as a sign of respect to one another. Leo Rose in his book ‘Nepal Strategy for Survival’ says, “In the period between 1384 and 1427, five Chinese missions and seven Nepali missions were exchanged between Nepal and China”.
Nepal, however, experienced a friction with its neighbours both in the north and the south, particularly, during the reign of Ratna Malla. The Tibetans and Bhutanese with the support of locals tried to destabilise Nepal. According to historian Balchandra Sharma, Ratna Malla, using his diplomatic acumen, sought help from Tirhout of India and Palpa to settle the problem.
In the 16th century, the Mugals had already established their powerful empire in India with their capital in Delhi. They were further expanding the empire. If the Mugals had moved to the north, Nepal definitely would have been its target. Sensing this danger, Mahendra Malla sought to better relations with Delhi and kept the Mugals at a distance through diplomacy. Perceval Landon says, “Mahendra Malla sent a mission to Mugal Emperor Humayun with a white swan and several falcons as token of respect from Nepal and Humayun, accepting Nepal’s friendship offer, sent some silver coins to Nepal’s king in return”. This was Nepal’s shrewd diplomacy to safeguard its independence and territorial integrity. The gift in the form of silver coins given to Nepal by the Mugal emperor also marked a historic event as it inspired Mahendra Malla to start minting silver coins in Nepal.
Tibet and China had relations with other states of Nepal apart from Kathmandu Valley’s kings as Nepal had been divided into many tiny states. Vijaya Kumar Manandhar in a book ‘A Comprehensive History of Nepal-China Relations Upto 1955 AD’ says, “Bali Raja was the king of Jumla, the biggest of the Baise (twenty-two) principalities around 1404 AD”. Manandhar has pointed out a reference about the Chinese government promising to give Bali Raja seven ‘dharnis’ (about 17.5 kilogram) of gold, good horses, brocades etc as well as the signing of a religious treaty between them. He also mentions a reference about ‘king Mahipal of Sinja (Jumla) signing a treaty with the Chinese Emperor and sending many horses to him”.
The Malla kingdoms of Kathmandu Valley (Kantipur, Bhadgaun and Patan) used to supply silver coins to Tibet, and in return they would get gold and silver from Tibet, which was very profitable business for Nepal. Thus, these kingdoms of the Kathmandu Valley had been desperately competing to control business with Tibet. Also there used to be periodic row with Tibet on issues of trade and purity of silver coins supplied by Nepali kingdoms.  The disputes sometimes led to war. When Tibet was weakened due its internal conflicts, and Kathmandu Valley’s three kings were also preoccupied in their bitter rivalries, Ram Shah, the king of Gorkha, invaded Tibet and took control of Kerong and the areas as far as Kukurghat of Tibet. The advance of Gorkha troops forced Tibet government to sign a treaty, thereby giving the Gorkhalis control over a main trade route between Nepal and Tibet, which was until then under the control of Kathmandu. The new treaty between Gorkha and Tibet served as a blow to Kathmandu. With Gorkha’s control over main trade route of Kerong, Kathmandu lost revenue from Tibet trade. However, Kathmandu’s king opened new trade route to Tibet via Kuti under the command of Bhim Malla in the period between 1645 and 1650.  A new treaty was negotiated to a greater advantage to Nepal. Upon return to Kathmandu, Bhim Malla, however, was rather greeted with insult as his enemies complained with the king against him. Being influenced by them, the king ordered Bhim Malla’s assassination, despite his patriotic works accomplished during his Tibet mission.
Fragmentation and unification had been the continuous process in the making of Nepal, which continued in all dynasties that ruled Nepal. There were many small principalities and kingdoms within the territory of present day Nepal. But the Kathmandu Valley represented the mainstream politics of Nepal. During Yaksha Malla’s reign, Nepal’s boundary had been extended far and wide in all directions but this glory lived short as he divided his kingdom, paving the way for fragmenting Nepal into more than 50 different principalities.
Tricks and tactics
Historian Surendra KC has categorised these principalities into six boarder groups on the basis of their nature and their interrelationship. These groups include: 1. Palpa League—Palpa, Jajarkot, Rishing, Ghiring, Arghakhachi and Gulmi. 2. Lamjung League—Lamjung, Kaski and Tanahu. 3. Bhirkot League—Nuwakot (West), Paiyu and Garahu 4. Parbat League— Parbat, Malebam and Galkot. 5. Pyuthan League—Pyuthan, Musikot, Isma, Khungri, and Bhingri and 6. Family League—states having close family relations like states ruled by Sen kings (Palpa, Butwal, Tanahu, Rishing, Makwanpur, Rajpur, Bijayapur and Chaudandi), states ruled by Shah kings (Gorkha, Kaski, Lamjung, Lasargha, Garahu, Satahu, Dhor and Pallo Nuwakot) and states ruled by Malla kings (Kantipur, Bhadgaun and Patan). Relationship among these states had never been cordial. KC further says that relationship among these states had been mainly characterised by jealousy, rivalry, groupism, treachery, attacks and counter attacks. Each state used to suspect the other even though they were bound by matrimonial and family ties. It was the basis of diplomacy of that time. Based on these tricks and tactics, the states tried to defend themselves from the potential invaders and intruders.
These states often waged wars against each another and at the same time entered into peace accords depending upon the situation. More rivalry was among states ruled by Shah kings namely Gorkha, Lamjung, Tanahu and Kaski. Similarly, the state of relationship among the Malla kings of the Kathmandu Valley was also marked by animosity and suspicion. The Sen states were also not an exception and there had also been wars and conflicts among themselves. Prithvi Narayan Shah took advantage of this rivalry between different states and brought them under Gorkha’s control, thereby laying the foundation of a unified Nepal.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Non-Aligned Movement Roles And Relevance

Yuba Nath Lamsal
As the 17th summit of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) was underway in Margarita Island of Venezuela on September 13-18, a real debate started outside on the role and relevance of the NAM in the changed global scenario. The NAM was created 55 years ago at the height of the Cold War marked by a stiff superpower rivalry and division of the world into two rival camps each led by a super power. The NAM was necessary at that time as many countries of the ‘Third World’ could not afford to side with any of the two rival blocs but chose to remain neutral. The NAM, therefore, became an appropriate forum for the countries wishing to have equal partnership and friendship with all countries irrespective of their ideological orientation and strategic alignment. But the international situation and scenario are markedly different at present. Now a question has arisen in the international forums and debates:  Is the NAM necessary in the present situation or is it just a waste of resources, energy and time?
Common platform
The founding principles of the NAM were anti-colonialism and anti-imperialism, which appealed to many countries in the world that had either recently been liberated or were still waging national liberation movements to free themselves from the yoke of colonialism and imperialism. The NAM, thus, became a common platform for them to push forward their common agendas as specter of imperialism, colonialism and neo-colonialism continued to hang around and afflict the countries around the world, more particularly the developing nations.

Immediately after the World War II, the global power scenario changed. Until the World War II, the United Kingdom was the center of international power as it used to boast that the sun never set in its empire. The fundamental bases of British power and wealth were its colonies. But after the war, the national liberation movement across the globe intensified so rapidly that the erstwhile colonies were liberated one after another, heavily weakening British power. As British power diminished, the United States emerged to fill the vacuum in the international power politics and became the dominant global power, while Soviet Union suddenly came into the international scene as a rival power challenging the domination of the Western powers.

In the juggling for influence and power in the international arena, two distinct rival camps emerged with the capitalist United States leading the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and the communist Soviet Union commanding another rival block called the Warsaw Pact. The rivalry between these two blocs was so intense that the proxy wars between the two rival blocs were more dangerous than the traditional wars fought ever in the history of mankind. This was a period called as the ‘Cold War’ during which many inter-state and intra-state wars were fought killing more people than the number of people killed in  five years during the World War II.

This new scenario caused dilemma to many developing countries. It was more dangerous situation than that of the past. Against this background, the non-aligned movement came into existence. An international conference of 25 developing countries in Belgrade of erstwhile Yugoslavia in 1961 formally gave birth to the NAM, and this gathering was dubbed as the first summit of the NAM. But the NAM did not come so easily and overnight.

There had been quite a lot hidden and otherwise exercises before than that. The Bandung Conference of Indonesia in 1955 was, in fact, a beginning of the NAM as 19 participating countries felt the necessity of an organisation of the neutral countries.  Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Jawaharlal Nehru of India, Sukarno of Indonesia and Josip Broz Tito of Yugoslavia were the mastermind behind this movement in which Nepal later joined as one of the founding members.

The Bandung Conference not only drew an outline of the NAM but also set some fundamental principles governing the new international organisation, which were later called as the “Ten Principles of Bandung”. However, the ‘Ten Bandung Principles’ were later modified in the first NAM Summit in Belgrade and shortened to five points, which are famously known as the ‘Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence’ or ‘ Panchasheel’ as the fundamental basis of international relations.

The non-aligned movement was initiated at a time when the colonial system was in decline and independence struggles raged across Africa, Asia, Latin America and other regions of the world, which provided a hope of a better international world order for hitherto oppressed and exploited countries. Started humbly with 25 countries, NAM has now 120 members, although the organisation appears to be more in name rather than in action especially after the end of the Cold War.

Nepal is a founder member of the NAM. It participated in several rounds of formal and informal discussions on the need and modality of the NAM and its formal announcement in the Belgrade summit in 1961. The participating countries in the first NAM Summit were: Nepal, Afghanistan, Algeria, Yemen, Myanmar, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Congo, Cuba, Cyprus, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Lebanon, Mali, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia and Yugoslavia.

Nepal strictly adheres to the principles of the non-aligned movement in the conduct of its foreign policy, international relations and diplomacy. The Constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal has incorporated these principles as the basic guiding principles of Nepal’s foreign policy. This, in itself, is the testament of Nepal’s unflinching faith and commitment to the NAM and its principles. Moreover, the fundamental principles of NAM or ‘Panchaseela’ are more important for Nepal as these principles have their original roots in Nepal. Lord Buddha, who was born in Nepal, propounded the ‘Panchasheela’ consisting of five codes of human conduct and international relations some 2500 year ago.
Lost charm
The NAM is, perhaps, the first international organisation that advocated the rights and interests of the oppressed and exploited countries of the South and raised voice against the countries of the north. After the collapse of the Soviet bloc and the end of the Cold War, there is no dearth of analysts both in the developed and developing countries alike who raise the question on the role and relevance of the non-aligned movement. The NAM has, of course, lost its original charm and but not its relevance.

The world and international balance of power definitely changed over the years and decades. The world is no longer bipolar nor will the present state of unipolarity stay forever. The world scenario has changed and is bound to keep on changing, continuously and steadily, in future, too, which is the law of nature.  Several poles are slowly emerging challenging the US-led unipolar state, thus, requiring even stronger international movements to bring the developing countries together into a common forum for collectively safeguarding their common and shared interests refraining from siding with any of the poles, groups and blocs.

The NAM may appear irrelevant at present given the state of global order, but situation will not always remain as it is now and different world order is sure to emerge in which the NAM may be more relevant. But Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) requires reforms in itself with newer strategies and concepts to work better in coping with the newly emerged international situation and in achieving the shared objectives of the member countries.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Nepal's Diplomatic history: Interregnum between Lichchhivi and Malla Period

Yuba Nath Lamsal
Foreign policy is said to be, or in all practicability too, an extension of the domestic policy. The domestic situation, therefore, impacts the diplomacy of any country in the world. The internal imbroglio followed by instability and conflict within the royal court as well as with other small neighbouring principalities of that time had a huge impact on diplomacy and foreign relations during the Lichchhavi period and thereafter.  With the demise of Narendradev, the fame and eminence of Lichchhavi rule in all realms and spheres came to a virtual end, which was, to a great extent, reflected on both the domestic situation as well as foreign relations. Nepal’s internal situation witnessed a kind of tumultuous state for some years to come until Jayasthiti Malla took over the reign.
 The interregnum between the Lichchhavi and Malla rule is fuzzy, perhaps, in the absence of authentic historical evidences, which made historians to base their accounts of Nepal’s history of this period on legends, mythologies and folklores rather than on facts and logic. Nepal’s influence and fame shrank along with the contraction in its physical size after the demise of King Narendra Dev.  In the absence of a powerful and charismatic ruler at the centre, some chieftains of different areas became more dominant, and they announced their own domain of rule, independent of the central authority (king) that led to the fragmentation of Nepal once again. Around the same period, or in 650 AD, Tibet’s powerful king Srong-btsan-Sgam-po died, and Tibet also slowly lost its earlier glory and strength. This, to a large extent, was a kind of blessing in disguise for Nepal as it eased Nepal’s security threat perception from the north. An internally weak Nepal, accompanied by conflicts within and with the newly declared states, had lost the capability to defend itself in case of a war broke out with its powerful northern neighbour. Fortunately, it did not happen, as Tibet, too, was getting weaker at that time.

Matrimonial Relations
While Tibet’s declining prowess posed no big threat to Nepal’s security from the north, a seeming threat to its security was slowly becoming apparent from the south. Magadh state of India had emerged as a powerful kingdom with its kings concentrating on expanding its territory in all directions. If not checked in time, this Indian kingdom might, one day, come face to face with Nepal, which could have proved fatal for its independence and territorial integrity.  The Magadh kingdom was too powerful in terms of its wealth as well as its military might for Nepal to confront, thus, necessitating it to adopt other tactics to contain and neutralise Magadh. It was the time when military power and matrimonial relations played a greater role in diplomacy and foreign relations. Nepal at that time did not match the military power of Magadh and, therefore, adopted matrimonial diplomacy to maintain good relations with Magadh. According to Perceval Landon, Shiva Dev II, the successor and perhaps son of Narendra Dev, married the granddaughter of the Emperor of Magadh Aditya Sen, through which Nepal maintained friendly relations with the powerful southern state of Magadha.
Since then, for almost another half decade, there has been no record of Nepal’s any diplomatic contact and communications with the states either to the north or to the south. About that time, or in the first half of the eighth century, Kashmir emerged as a powerful kingdom of Asia, and its King Lalit Binayaditya is said to have expanded the kingdom’s territory as far as Nepal’s border. After Lalit Binayaditya’s death in the latter half of the eight century, Jayapida Binayaditya became the King of Kashmir and gave continuity to his predecessor’s campaign of expanding its territory. It is said that a war broke out between Nepal and the kingdom of Kashmir, but Nepal, with its shrewd military tactics, finally got the upper hand with Kashmir. At that time, Armundi was the King of Nepal. Historian Balchandra Sharma says, “When Jayapida’s army advanced into Nepali territory, King Armundi, in the beginning, let them enter within the border but later attacked Jayapida’s army when the Kashmiri troops were crossing a river”. Armundi’s army then captured King Jayapida of Kashmir and imprisoned him in the far off fort near the Kali Gandaki River.  It is not known what actually happened to Nepal’s relations with Kashmir after this incident. But Nepal’s sovereignty was defended with the shrewd use of its military tactics. Had Armundi chosen to directly resist Jayapida’s force at the border, chances were high that Nepal’s army could have been run over by the strong Kashmiri army.
Little is known about Nepalese history for the period of around three decades from early 8th century to the first quarter of the 11th century. But there had been a flurry of movements of Indian, Tibetan and Chinese pilgrims via Nepal during this period. Historian Sylvain Levi claims that towards early 9th century, Nepal was under some Pal kings of India, but its authenticity has not yet been proved. Around that period, the Mahipal kingdom was established somewhere in the present northern India from Bihar to Assam. Some historians are of the view that Nepal, too, was once captured by these Pal or Mahipal kings. One thing, however, is certain that Nepal had been a center for pilgrims from both India and Tibet. During the Mahipal reign in Bihar of India, several Buddhist scholars and pilgrims visited Nepal and travelled to Tibet via Nepal, which some historians have linked to diplomatic communication between the northern and southern states of the Himalayas.
It is also said that Nepal briefly came under the rule of Rajput King Nanyadev of the southern Indian state of Karnataka. Historian Landon says, “Nanyadev founded a dynasty with its capital Simraun (Simrangarh)”. Some historians are of the view that Nanyadev later attacked Kathmandu, Patan (Lalitpur) and Bhadgaon (Bhaktapur) and shifted his capital from Simraungarh to Kathmandu. There is some truth in it as it was not possible to shift the capital from Simrangarh to Kathmandu and rule from Kathmandu over such a vast area extending from Kathmandu to Bihar and Assam. One thing can be said with certainty that Nanyadev might have helped a certain king of Kathmandu either to establish or restore his kingdom. Nepal’s diplomatic contacts, therefore, had been limited only to the states of the south during that time. According to historian Sharma, in 1324, Muslim ruler of Delhi (India) Gaya Singh Tuglak attacked Simraungargh or Siraungarh and King Harisinghdev, descendant of Nanyadev, fled to Kathmandu seeking refuge. However, Harisinghdev later captured Nepal and established the rule of ‘Suryavansy dynasty’ in Nepal which lasted for at least another eight decades.
If the description of the Ming dynasty of China is any clue, Nepal and China had established diplomatic relations in the 14th century. Chinese Emperor Hang Wu sent two different emissaries to the king of Nepal, whose name was Moti Singh.  Landon further says, “The Chinese envoys brought an official seal, confirming Moti Singh in his kingly office, and in return, the Nepalese king sent to Peking a gift containing golden shrines, sacred books, and thoroughbreds”. It is believed that the exchange of gifts between the Chinese and Nepalese kings had taken place between 1375 and 1380. Shyama Singh, perhaps the last of the Suryavansy dynasty, had sent an envoy to China, which was received well by the Chinese emperor. In return, Shyama Singh again received from the Chinese emperor a seal of confirmation in his royal office in late 1415.
The state of foreign relations and diplomacy during the interregnum of Lichchivi and Malla period had not evolved as a separate policy domain. The diplomatic initiatives were not well thought about policy strategy but were conducted based on the whim and caprice of the rulers. So diplomatic conduct was marked with ups and down without any firm commitment and principle. Survival was the primary goal of the rulers of that time, whose power continually fluctuated and did not leave any distinct mark on Nepal’s foreign policy and diplomacy. The Lichchhavi period had earned a reputation of strong governance within and tactful diplomacy outside, which seem to be visibly lacking in the later period, especially after Narendra Dev.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Diplomacy In Kirat And Lichchhivi Period

Yuba Nath Lamsal
Nepal is one of the oldest countries in South Asia. Nepal remained an independent country even when almost the whole of South Asia had become a British colony. Nepal and Britain had come face to face in their mission of territorial expansion and fought a war in 1814-16, following which the Sugauli Treaty was signed, formally ending the war. The Sugauli Treaty had two shocking consequences for Nepal. First, Nepal lost almost one-third of its territory, and second, Nepal’s territorial expansion came to an end.

Although the Sugauli Treaty is the beginning of Nepal’s modern diplomacy, the tradition of establishing contact with other countries has a long history. We can trace Nepal’s diplomacy as back as 1500 BC, when Nepal’s Kirat kings had relations with several Indian states, including the most powerful Hastinapur. One Kirat King of Nepal, Jitedasti, is believed to have participated in the great Mahabharat war and, according to historian Balchandra Sharma, he helped the Pandavas against the Kauravas in the war.

Emperor Ashoka of Magadha visited Lumbini around 250 BC on his pilgrimage, during which he had a pillar erected at Lumbini as a symbol of respect to the Buddha. Later, Emperor Ashoka visited Kathmandu  and had his daughter Charumati married to Devpal, a prince of Kathmandu. A new settlement was established after Devpal’s name in Kathmandu, somewhere near the Pashupatinath area, which was known as Devpatan. Another settlement was named Chabhil after Charumati. This gives evidence that Nepal’s diplomatic history existed as early as 250 BC. Kautilya’s Arthasashtra (Economic Theory) mentions about Nepal’s trade with Magadh state. Pataliputra (Patna) was the hub of trade between Nepal and India, with key trading items being woolen materials, kasturi (aromatic musk deer pod), copper utensils and iron.

The bases of international relations and diplomacy have always been the safeguard of boundaries and economic interest. Nepal’s fundamental goal of international relations was also the defence of its boundary, followed by trade and economic interests. Nepal’s diplomacy and foreign relations were, thus, limited to neighbouring states.

Nepal’s history is chequered so is its international relations and diplomacy. Its fluctuating size and influence also had impact on its diplomacy and international relations. When Nepal’s territory was expanded, it had greater diplomatic influence far and wide both in the south and north. Its diplomatic influence shrank when Nepal became fragmented and weak.

Not much is known about Nepal’s authentic diplomatic activities during the Kirat and earlier dynastical rules, except the mention of trade between Nepal and Magadh in Kautilya’s Arthasastra. Similarly, no concrete step was taken at the official level to establish and nurture relations with the northern states during the Kirat period. However, unofficial contact with China at the people’s level had existed from the fifth century. Vijaya Kumar Manandhar, in his book ‘A Comprehensive History of Nepal China Relations Vol 1’, says “although the first recorded official relations between the two countries date from the middle of the seventh century, unofficial contacts between Nepal and China began much earlier through cultural delegations”.

Kirats are Mongoloid and came to Nepal from the north, probably Tibet, China or Mongolia. Kirat Nepal was psychologically closer with the northern states. But other rulers like the Lichchhivis, Mallas, Shahs and Ranas came from the south, and it was natural for them to have closer relations with the states of the south.

During the Lichchhivi period, Nepal was the commercial and intellectual hub between Tibet and the Indian states, which led to active diplomatic engagement with nations in the south and north. Nepal’s diplomatic contacts had reached as far as Afghanistan in the west and Central Asia in the north, the southern-most tip of present India and Myanmar in the east. Leo E Rose, author of the book “Nepal Strategy For Survival” says that “in the seventh century, Tibet emerged as a powerful kingdom which transformed the Kathmandu Valley, an isolated sub-Himalayan backwater, into the commercial and intellectual entrepot between India and Central Asia”.

Buddhism became an important thread to bind Nepal and China. The Chinese became more interested to lean on Nepal especially Lumbini—Buddha’s birthplace after Buddhism was popularised in Tibet and China. The visits of Chinese monks to Nepal and Nepalese Buddhist scholars to China contributed in furthering relations between the two countries. Chinese monk Seng-Tsai, Fa-Hsien, Che-Meng and Hsuan-tsang visited Nepal during the Lichchhivi period, and their travel accounts aroused the interest of other Chinese about Nepal, contributing largely to building a deeper relationship between Nepal and China.

The Lichchhivi period was a golden age in terms of foreign relations and diplomacy. The inscription of Changunaryan Temple says that Nepal’s territory had expanded far and wide in all four directions and had maintained relations with neighbouring states. Amsuverma’s period is said to be a milestone in Nepal’s diplomatic relations with the neighbours. Hsuan-tsang’s travel account mentions Nepal’s rich art and prosperity. This shows that Nepal was a country of interest for foreigners, especially its neighbours- Indian states and China. From this, we can well imagine that Nepal’s diplomatic relations were good with its neighbours. Amsuverma was a clever ruler, who knew the dangers and opportunities from across the borders.

During Amsuverma’s time, Tibet under King Srong-btsan-Sgam-po was powerful. The way the Tibetan king was expanding his country, Amsuverma saw danger from the northern neighbour and adopted matrimonial diplomacy with Tibet to prevent the possible threat from the north. Amsuverma’s daughter Bhrikuti was married to Srong-btsan-Sgam-po in 639 AD. After Bhrikuti’s marriage, the matrimonial diplomacy worked well, and Nepal enjoyed warm and cordial relationship with Tibet and established friendly relationship with China through Tibet as the Tibetan king had marital relationship with the Chinese emperor. It was Nepal’s first official diplomatic relationship with any other country. Perceval Landon is right to say that Bhrikuti’s marriage was the beginning of any real intercommunication and mutual knowledge between the “deserts to the north of Mount Everest and the fertile valleys to the south”.

Nepal and China met in Tibet through this historic marital alliance. Vijaya Kumar Manandhar further says, “This triangular marital relationship between Nepal, Tibet and China would prove to be politically, culturally and economically of great significance in the development of Sino-Nepalese relations, for it laid the foundation for formal relations between Nepal and China as well as opening of the Kerung trade route between Nepal and Tibet.

The Kerung route across the Himalayas was opened for travel and trade between Nepal and Tibet. This was later used for trade between Nepal and China and India and China via Nepal. This matrimonial diplomacy not only established and developed Nepal’s friendly relations with Tibet and China but also contributed to enlarge Nepal’s influence in the south. The opening of the Kerung route helped boost Nepal’s trade with Tibet and also with China. Nepal as a transit country benefited politically, economically and diplomatically.

The matrimonial alliance between Nepal and Tibet had an effect on entire Asia. According to Manandhar, besides opening Nepal to the outside world, it facilitated communication between China and India, the two most powerful Asian countries, by allowing Nepal to serve as a crossroad between them as it, within a very short time, became a main link in trans-Himalayan communication, which proved to be of great economic and diplomatic significance for Nepal.

During Narendra Dev’s reign between 643 and 690, an official emissary led by Li I-pao and Wang Hsuan T’se of Chinese Emperor Taizong  of T’ang dynasty visited Nepal en route to India to meet emperor Harshvardhan of northern India. King Narendra Dev had warmly received the Chinese mission in Kathmandu and helped for its safe journey to India. Harshvardhan died before the Chinese mission reached India and Arunashwa succeeded him. The new ruler insulted the Chinese emissary. It is said that the Chinese emperor with support from King Narendra Dev of Nepal captured Arunashwa and punished him. This event suggests that Nepal during the Lichchhivi period had accorded more priority to the relations with China more than any other states. The friendly relations with China were given continuity for some decades during which the tradition of exchanging emissaries and valuable gifts started and continued for centuries. During the Lichchhivi period, Nepal had direct relations with Indian states, Tibet and China. But after Narendra Dev’s rule, Nepal’s diplomatic relations markedly shrank. This was revived by the  Malla kings.