China’s pledge for a grant of one billion RMB for post-earthquake reconstruction and border road construction last month came as a new year gift to Nepal. It was a message that China’s involvement in Nepal will grow. The deal signed in Beijing between Nepal’s ambassador to China and China’s vice minister for commerce coincided with a significant announcement by the spokesperson of the Chinese defence ministry. He said that Nepal and China will conduct a “joint military training” soon, something that may not be taken very kindly in India. Many think the joint exercise — that will focus on counter-terrorism and disaster management — will mark the beginning of a long-term formal cooperation between the two neighbours. The two armies have quietly undertaken confidence building measures, especially after 2008, when China solicited the help of Nepal’s army to keep a vigil on the Nepal-China border. It feared that pro-Tibet human rights groups might disturb the Beijing Olympics.
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