MCC: a Forced Choice of Nepal

Nita Khawas | Alice P. Albright, CEO of Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), will visit Nepal at the end of this August to attend ceremony of MCC implementation and other MCC senior officials will also be present. Before ratification of MCC at Nepal parliament in last February, the pact was largely objected because of its geopolitical and military intents, which are against Nepal’s non-alliance policy.

MCC projects consist of two parts: electricity transmission lines and road maintenance. Currently, Millennium Challenge Account Nepal (MCA Nepal) has started the process of land purchasing and contractor recruitment. However, small scale protests over land compensation and deforestation happened in Lapsephedi village of Kathmandu city and Belkotgadhi county of Nuwakot district. Local villagers were unsatisfied with MCA-Nepal and Nepal government.

Signed in 2017, MCC compact has been faced with opposition and protests for a long time. Many officials of the US government and the MCC headquarters have been to Nepal and hold political negotiations. Finally, the US government  threatened that the US-Nepal ties will be reviewed without MCC ratification. Later then Prime Minister Deuba helped to ratify the MCC pact in the parliament under immense pressure. All Nepali people are clear that, MCC is used by senior politicians as a weapon to bargain political benefits. Deuba, Dahal and Oli all have ever acquired political support from the US using MCC. As for implementation of MCC, the same story happens again today.

Actually, MCC is a forced choice for Nepal government. Caught between China and India, Nepal enjoys critical geopolitical position. That’s the reason why the US pays special attention to the small country, especially in the critical time of China-US competition. Nepal sticks to a balanced foreign policy over the past years, which aims at making the max profits from the competition of big powers. In 2019, David J. Ranz, the then Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South Asia, said Millennium Challenge Corporation Compact programme was one of the most important initiatives being implemented in Nepal under the US Indo-Pacific Strategy. With Indo-Pacific geopolitics getting more complex, and the competition of stake holders in and outside this region getting more fierce, the political and military intents of MCC are far beyond its economic values. No wonder that every patriotic Nepali said “NO MCC”.

Though Nepalis showed unprecedented strong opposition towards MCC in the past several years, the government still ran counter to the mass. Nowadays, the MCC compact is ready for formal implementation. While it seems peaceful at the surface, the implementation actually lays foundation for the US to store more strategic and military assets in Nepal. However, it seems that helpless Nepali people have no other options but to accept it. What they can do is just witnessing this sharp knife stabbed into the heart of their nation .

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