Protest in Nepal against China’s Belt Road Initiative project over land encroachments


Kathmandu [Nepal]: People in Nepal are protesting against China for various reasons, including the Belt Road Initiative (BRI), a project they term as “illegal occupation of Nepalese land by Beijing,” a Canada-based think tank has said.

Citing Nepalese media, the International Forum for Rights and Security (IFFRAS) reported such encroachments in Humla, Gorkha, Darchula, Dolakha and Sindhupalchowk districts.

The Nepal government had formed a committee to survey the border, and it found physical structures and wire-fencing inside the country’s border. The encroachment in Humla district was well 1-km inside the border, according to the think tank.

According to IFFRAS, the reports of BRI loan recipient countries falling into debt traps have caused people in Nepal people to be worried about the projects in their country. And they are not ready to trust even their own political leaders, citing the example of Sri Lanka, Kenya, where lawmakers let Beijing impose unfavourable conditions, risking their sovereignty.

Locals in Jhapa district have opposed China-sponsored Damak Clean Industrial Park, stating that “industrial park falls in former Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s constituency”, believing that Oli was seen too close to Beijing.

IFFRAS reported that there were over 5,000 protesters, including those from indigenous communities, who called for attention to “illegal activities” at the BRI- sponsored industrial park. However, experts in Nepal claimed that the BRI was leading to unsustainable development that would negatively impact the social and ecological aspects.

There have been fears that China was getting its hands on strategic sectors that are vital to Nepal’s security interests. And the people of Nepal see BRI as a major reason besides land encroachment.

“BRI project has been a ploy to impose a debt burden on poor nations, including Nepal. BRI project should not be allowed to be implemented in Nepal.” IFFRAS quoting Birendra Sah of the Loktantirk Socialist Party reported.

After China-friendly Oli resigned as Prime Minister of Nepal in July 2021, Beijing is finding it difficult in keeping its influence in the Himalayan nation. Amid growing public anger, China has said that it “respects Nepal’s sovereignty and territorial integrity” and denied interference in the country’s internal affairs. “China considers Nepal as an important partner of the Belt and Road Initiative, and does not attach any political conditions to its aid to Nepal,” said the Chinese Embassy in Nepal, according to the think tank. (ANI)


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