China has been aggressively courting India’s neighbors in recent times and in the latest development, it has started a joint military exercise with Nepal. The 10-day joint military exercise named ‘Sagarmatha Friendship 2017’ is being held in Kathmandu and its primary focus is counter-terrorism operations. According to a Nepalese military spokesman, the drill is a routine exercise, part of the efforts to improve ties with countries that have diplomatic relations with Nepal. The event will be closely watched by New Delhi, as both India and China are competing to boost their influence in the region.
It may be recalled that China utilizes its wealth to win over its neighboring countries. This has been the trend with many countries including Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. In case of Nepal, China has pledged investments worth a staggering $8.3 billion, which roughly equals 40% of Nepal’s GDP. In comparison, India could offer only $317 million, which appears like small change relative to China’s offer. Experts say that it may be China’s long term strategy to win over India’s neighbors in an effort to reduce its influence in South Asia.