Top Indian officials have gone on record indicating that China was at fault for instigating Nepal on the Lipulekh road. But Beijing sees Nepal as the conduit to enter the Indian market, so logically it would be careful about what it did. Now it seems the Nepalis were alerted to the Lipulekh road by a message from an American think tank based in Delhi. That message set the ball rolling in Kathmandu. It also coincided with reports about the Nepal Parliament’s likely approval of the $500 mn U.S. grant awaiting clearance since 2017. The money from the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s Nepal Compact will fund energy and highways projects in Nepal, which is precisely what China’s BRI intends to do. But that is stuck, given Nepali fears of a debt trap. The U.S. has stepped in, hoping the money will be a small step towards using Nepal as a base to infiltrate Tibet and Xinjiang.
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