Nepal is in a very special geopolitical situation, caught between two giants – India and China. The ties with India have always been interwoven closely – culturally, politically, and economically – while China for a long time was a rather distant relative beyond the Himalayas. However, China’s spectacular rise during the last decades has led to cracks in the wall. And while India is trying to reinforce its sphere of influence, especially in South Asia, China aspires to extend its connections and influence through the trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) framework and related projects.The (re)emergence of China and India both economically and politically has also heightened interest of other major powers, who are trying to contain the Chinese ambitions.
With the undercurrents of geopolitical change, the pressure increases on countries like Nepal to reformulate their foreign policies and develop international relations in new ways. Moreover, new dimensions of geopolitical competition and the emerging role of small states in this ‘new great game’ will provide further space for external influence on politics, developmental initiatives, and external affairs. Under such circumstances, small countries might need to blow away some cobwebs and misconceptions of the past to steer more safely through these uncertain waters.
Against this background, the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) Nepal office set out to take a closer look at different geopolitical dynamics and its implications for Nepal. This volume brings together some of the most distinguished scholars and experts from Nepal and collects perspectives from India as well as East and Central Asia. Our modest hope is that with this, we can contribute to initiate a fruitful discussion on the possibilities ahead.