Nepal and the Geo-Strategic Rivalry between China and India

By Sanjay Upadhya (Notes by Dakota)

Chronological Summary of the Interactions between Nepal and the World

·         Relationship with China started in the mid seventh century; Chinese became interested in Buddhist artifacts and texts.


·         Resulted in a new trade route through Tibet to Nepal and increased interest and activity in the region.


·         Warring with Tibet led to a Chinese invasion; became tributary to Qing Dynasty for period of time in exchange for independence during the times where British Empire dominated Southeast Asia.


·         Britain tried to play mediator between China, Nepal, and India, but in the end only strained their relationship with all three.


·         During both World Wars, Nepalese soldiers fought under British command. Their alliance with the British allowed them to maintain some autonomy and independence


·         Chinese rulers including Mao Zedong considered Nepal a territory belonging to China that was lost to Imperialism.


·         In 1950 China invaded Tibet. India, who had just gained independence, and hoping to not lose control of Nepal, installed a monarchy over the existing multiparty democracy in Nepal at that time.


·         Just after its first democratic elections 1959, its neighbors in Tibet failed in revolting against China. The Dali Lama then fled to India.


·         In the 1970’s, increasing influence from India to include the annexing by India of the Himalayan Kingdom of Sikkim, a neighbor of Nepal, encouraged Nepal to veer away from India and attempt to forge a more militaristic based alliance with the Chinese.


·         Since the 1990’s the Chinese Government has engaged in a campaign called “Go West” designed to cool down ethnic tensions in western China due to the relative lack of economic development in that side of the country. It is beneficial for China to keep Nepal stabilized to prevent dissention from spreading back to Tibet.


·         Current Nepalese policy is to weight China and India against each other, to secure its sovereignty. 

About Dakota LaPorte

My name is Dakota LaPorte and I am currently a cadet second class at the United States Air Force Academy. I grew up in Northeast Ohio, and that is where I first became interested in community service. Unfortunate circumstances found me in the foster care system as a child, and through the amazing kindness and generosity of numerous families and the community I was able to excel and pursue my dream of becoming a military officer.  The constant desire to help those in need has always been a pillar of what I define myself as a person, and having been the recipient of so much good will throughout the course of my life, it only seems natural to give back as much as I can so others may succeed. With my free time I love playing sports of all types but especially basketball, working out, exploring and hiking.

 What I am looking forward to the most about this trip is the opportunity to meet new people and really understand their culture and way of life. Finding solutions to the problems Nepal faces cannot be accomplished without getting a real understanding for the specificity of their circumstances. All too often, good intentions and genuine concern are wasted on solutions that simply aren’t effective in the scenarios they are applied to. The team has made incredible progress over the last year and a half through extensive research into the political climate, social dynamics and day to day economics of the region. We’ve put together many presentations and researched numerous books and articles toward the goal of having an expert understanding of how Nepal works on arrival. It is my hope that the research our team conducts will pave the way to a realistic and effective plan of action for improving the quality of life for everyone in Nepal. Not just a temporary fix, but rather the beginning of a series of progressive and sustainable improvements that provide real change. I am exciting to dig into the issues and be a part of something to help others, and look forward to the opportunities for learning and professional growth along the way!