KATHMANDU, Nov 17: Former Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal has said that Nepal should not agree on 'China-India Plus' cooperation model to South Asia pushed forward by the neighboring countries.
Speaking at an interaction program titled "Two Plus One or Trilateral" organized by Nepal Alternative Research Society on Sunday in the capital, the former prime minister claimed 'China-India Plus' cooperation concept would not serve the national interests of Nepal.
"Nepal should not remain merely as an observer when the two big neighboring countries forge some deals. We should not accept such deals either. I believe that this will not serve our national interests," he said.
Leader Nepal, who is also the chief of the ruling Nepal Communist Party's Foreign Affairs Department, however, said that his party has yet to make an official position on the issue. "We will hold a serious intra-party debate in the coming days and come up with the party's clear position on this particular matter," he said.
The former prime minister, however, said that Nepal should reap benefit from the economic rise of two immediate neighbors.
"I believe we should not remain only as a yam between two boulders. Instead, we can transform ourselves as a dynamic bridge between China and India since the two countries have been deepening their cooperation in recent years," he said.
Nepal, who is also the former foreign minister, further said that the concept of Asian century has come to light with the rise of China and India. "We are equally worried that whether we will be entrapped due to the strategic competition between these two," he said.
While recalling his meetings with Indian political leadership, leader Nepal said that they were quite suspicious of Nepal's ties with China. "But, when I met with Chinese leaders, I found them quite the opposite. They asked me to have cordial ties with India and suggested that Nepal needs to take Indian confidence while dealing with China," he shared.
In another context, he said that the government should make its efforts to retrieve Nepali territory Kalapani as soon as possible.
During the program, Sudheer Sharma, the editor-in-chief of Kantipur daily made a presentation on "Two Plus One or Trilateral". In his paper, he claimed that the concept of China-India Plus was pushed forward by China after its proposal of China-Nepal-India could not go ahead as expected.
"For its equal share, Nepal should not agree on China-India Plus concept. Instead, it should go for the China-Nepal-India trilateral partnership," he said.
Sharma stressed the need for holding a rigorous debate on the issue of the China-India Plus cooperation model in Nepal.
"As per the consensus reached between Indian PM Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping during Wuhan Informal Summit in 2018, China and India have launched some projects in Afghanistan under the same model. It seems the two neighboring countries are trying to implement the same model in other countries including Nepal," he viewed.
Sharma further said that India remained non-committal to the concept of trilateral cooperation between China, Nepal and India. "Perhaps, it is because India does not want to see China's active presence in its sphere of influence," he said.
Although China is vocal to the concept of China-India Plus cooperation model, India still seems tight-lipped on the issue, Sharma said.
Nepali Congress leader Dr Ram Sharan Mahat, former deputy executive director of the Institute of Foreign Affairs Dr Indra Adhikari and writer Jhalak Subedi also shared their views on the China-India Plus cooperation model.
According to the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the "China-India Plus" cooperation model was discussed when Chinese President Xi and Indian PM Modi held an informal summit in India's Chennai on October 11 and 12 this year.
During the meeting, Xi had underscored the need to explore the gradual expansion of the "China-India Plus" cooperation to South Asia, according to media reports.