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China's growing influence on display in Xi's Nepal visit

Xi's arrival in Kathmandu. Photo: Xinhua/Gao Jie via Getty Images

Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Nepal over the weekend bearing gifts: a pledge of $500 million in economic aid for the impoverished Himalayan country and a series of infrastructure deals worth billions more.

Why it matters: Phanindra Dahal of BBC Nepali, and a former Axios fellow, emails from Kathmandu that Xi's visit was "massive news" in a country at the center of a tug of war between India and China:

  • "The president, prime minister and all members of the Cabinet went to the airport to receive and see off President Xi. The ruling party even organized a discussion on 'Xi Jinping Thought' ahead of the visit."
  • "'Nepal and China are brothers,' the Chinese president said. India used to say things like that and Nepalis would see it as an unwelcome reference to Indian domination."
  • "But Nepal is trying hard to end its sole dependence on India, and Xi said he would help the landlocked country become landlinked — with plans for roads, railways and tunnels."
  • "The U.S. also sees Nepal as strategically important and is worried about China's growing influence. India and Western powers will be watching closely to see how the Chinese deals are implemented."

In other news: While in Nepal, Xi issued a warning over Hong Kong:

"Anyone attempting to split China in any part of the country will end in crushed bodies and shattered bones."

Go deeper: Nepal has a front-row seat to the great power competition in Asia