According to a report by a Canadian think tank on January 21st, people in Nepal are protesting against China for a variety of reasons, including the Belt Road Initiative (BRI), which they describe as Beijing’s “illegal occupation of Nepalese land.”

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

According to ANI News, the Nepalese government organized a border survey committee, which discovered physical structures and wire-fencing inside the country’s borders. According to the think tank, the encroachment in Humla district was well over a kilometer within the line.

According to the International Forum for Rights and Security, experiences of BRI loan recipient countries sliding into debt traps have made Nepalese citizens concerned about their country’s programs.

They are also unwilling to trust their own political leaders, citing the examples of Sri Lanka and Kenya, where legislators allowed Beijing to impose unfavorable conditions, jeopardizing their sovereignty.

Locals in Jhapa district have spoken out against the China-backed Damak Clean Industrial Park, claiming that the “industrial park falls in former Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s constituency,” and that Oli is perceived as being too close to Beijing.

According to the International Forum for Rights and Security, over 5,000 demonstrators, including indigenous groups, gathered at the BRI-sponsored industrial park, to raise attention to “illegal activity.”

Experts in Nepal, on the other hand, claimed that the BRI was leading to unsustainable development that would have a severe impact on social and environmental issues.

There have been concerns as China is gaining access to crucial sectors important to Nepal’s security. And, aside from land invasion, the people of Nepal regard BRI as a major factor.

International Forum for Rights and Security quotes MP Birendra Sah from the Loktantrik Socialist Party as saying:

BRI project has been a ploy to impose a debt burden on poor nations, including Nepal. The BRI project should not be allowed to be implemented in Nepal.”

Following the resignation of Oli as Prime Minister of Nepal in July 2021, Beijing is struggling to maintain its influence in the Himalayan country. China has stated that it “respects Nepal’s sovereignty and territorial integrity” and has denied meddling in the country’s internal affairs, despite mounting public outrage.

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