Interaction Program of NISS with SIIS
Nepal Institute for Strategic Studies (NISS) organized an interaction programme with Shanghai Institutes for International Studies delegation team on their request during their Field Study Tour in Nepal between 07 Oct to 12 Oct.
Minutes of Interaction Program of NISS
Shanghai Institutes for International Studies( SIIS )
Venue : Hotel Shangri La
10 Oct 2017
1. The members of the delegation were as follows:
2. The participants from NISS were a total of six members including the office staff.
3. SIIS had furnished a questionnaire (See Appx A) one week before their arrival in Kathmandu under which the interaction programme was mainly focused with other strategic issues.
4. Main Points of the interaction were as follows :
(a) The Chairman of NISS Lt Gen Vivek K Shah ( Retd ) welcomed the delegation members and stressed upon the importance of age old China – Nepal relations and highlighted about Nepal’s geopolitical condition . He thanked the delegation team for meeting with NISS members and wished the visit to be fruitful, memorable, comfortable and pleasant.
(b) The Chairman briefly highlighted the history of two neighboring country, the present scenario and also talked about the future cooperation. He mentioned about the events like seminar and interaction programme organized by NISS on One Belt One Road ( OBOR ) and the standoff at Dokalam between Chinese and Indian Troops. He pointed out the significance of Nepal to China and vise versa.
(C) He wished we could have more opportunity to explore further in the areas of mutual interests in future and welcomed the team for a rich interaction.
(d) Brig Gen Keshar Bahadur Bhandari ( Retd ), the Secretary of NISS , mentioned about the strategic picture of the region. His opined that OBOR can be a dividend once the Chinese Railways link up to Nepal’s border and we are connected till Lumbini( birthplace of Lord Buddha ) that is closest to India’s border and to other Buddhist religious sites. These railways promote commerce and it will be two way . He laid emphasis on P to P relations, Track Two diplomacy, and the potential cooperation between India and China with the help of Nepal as a lynchpin.
(e) He threw lights on the Tibet sensitivity, the prehistoric negativity of India and its gesture with neighbors , especially with Pakistan, US interests and asked the delegation members for immediate specific roles that Nepal must play to kick start the BRI project effectively.
(e) Additional Inspector General of Police ( Retd ) Rabi Raj Thapa, Executive member of NISS highlighted the importance of regional security architecture and showed worry about the religion transformation , new dynamics of crimes, transnational smuggling, and also the possibilities of safe havens for terrorists if we lose sight of the needful security aspect . He threw lights on the importance and the working of the think tanks in both countries. As if track one becomes ineffective how to chase it with track two diplomacy. He mentioned that some NGO’s (or INGOs) make their mind and narrative to work by utilizing their money. He stressed for a importance of national values and even sovereignty.
(f) Former Chief National Investigation Department and executive member of NISS Mr Devi Ram Sharma spoke about Nepal China Cooperation dynamics, the emergence of Chinese economy after 80s modernization programme, reminded of Chinese leader Mr Deng Xiao Ping , the exchange visits of High profile officials of China , the sensitivity of the Tibet issue, India’s concern in growing Chinese engagements in the region and Nepal in particular.
Comments and questions from SIIS members
5. Prof Ms Zhang Haibing thanked NISS for organizing the interaction programme with dinner. She told it was their first visit to Nepal and had come for field study as a learning visit for which she also thanked The Asia Foundation ( TAF ) . She praised NISS and said they were very cherished with neighbor Nepal but also pointed out that anything that relates to Nepal is naturally related to India as well in regard to China – Nepal cooperation programs. She said, the visit was aimed as SIIS, established since 1960 as a government Think Tank, wanted to know about China’s neighbors. SIIS is based in both Beijing and Shanghai with seven institutions and similar number of centers under it.
6. Dr Zonyi highlighted about the SIIS mandate which was 60 % for security and foreign relations and rest is for other aspects. Actually economy is a small part in study. He briefly mentioned about Nepalese troops had even challenged the mighty Chinese troops in the history and since that time we enjoy our friendly relations. China has initiated China Nepal India economic corridor and Pres Xi Jin Ping considers India as a developing partner. There are mainly three obstacles: one is India’s ruling elite do not take China’s economic behavior easily, Second is the growing Hindu nationalism , also called as “Hindu Dhaba” that will not be limited to their domestic politics but may also impact neighbors ; and the third one is the India’s non-participation on BRI, and border disputes between India and China. He remarked although China dealt with wisdom to escalate the tension of Dokalam this time, and the issue was not provoked by China and China does not like such transgression in future.
7. Dr Zhou Shixin said India should not use Nepal card for its advantage against China. Nepal can, however be a connecting bridge between these two countries. Economic development should be Nepal’s priority for which stability is the precondition. Nepal can remain independent and have more discourse and explore the potential being land linked rather than landlocked. China will always have willingness to support Nepal in her development.
8. Dr Zhan Taidong asked three questions, these were:
(a) How can Think Tank Cooperation between Nepal and China can be done ?
(b) As Nepal can be a bridge between China and India , how can Nepal help in bridging the gap ?
(c) What about the possibility of China – Nepal Railway?
9. Chairman, Secretary and other members of the NISS opined their views on these questions for the visiting team’s satisfaction. Quoting the writer (Researchers from Oxford University) the Chairman stated the origin of Nepalese people in the history from Central Asia and Indus Valley both and the salient difference of the people residing in the plains and the hills. The interaction was open to discuss some other issues as well. In regard to the annexation of Sikkim by India in 1974, China although did not recognize it for long but eventually after around 20 years it recognized the move and for which some scholars feel it as an incorrect move . Chairman highlighted the shift of priority by NDA Government under PM Mr Modi from poverty and Naxallite problem to that of international terrorism which was highlighted by UPP government.
10. Dr Liu Zongyi put his opinion as China wants to apply the advantage of OBOR to upgrade the Asian Community but it seems too high as an ambition for now. Hence, China wants stability and prosperity of our neighbors. We can never have the benefit of project without the stability. Our priority is to create stability and then have the development programmes, as we did in Tibet. Due to lower labor cost we want to establish some industries in neighboring countries, but these are not necessarily be labor intensive. So by developing China Nepal India economic corridor we can increase trades and commerce.
11. With a healthy conversation between all members of the delegation team of SIIS and NISS, the interaction program ended at 1815 Hrs with a positive note with more hopes for future cooperation between the two institutes in common areas of interest. The delegation were very thankful.