Roads, Grids and Sovereignty

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Nepalese lawmakers approved a half-billion-dollar US government aid program this week, despite intense opposition from China and local politicians, who warned that the funds will undermine the country’s sovereignty, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Parliament Speaker Agni Prasad Sapkota said that Millennium Challenge Compact received support from a majority of legislators.

Nepal and the United States originally signed the grant in September 2017, which aims to improve the country’s electricity infrastructure and road network.

Even so, critics feared that some provisions of the deal would override the Himalayan country’s laws. Some politicians said the compact was designed to counter China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which Nepal signed with Beijing in May 2017.

Others noted that it was part of the US’s Indo-Pacific Strategy to counter China’s influence in the region.

In recent days, many student unions and local communist parties protested the program in front of parliament.

But US representatives countered that the grant was “designed to transparently reduce poverty and grow the economy of Nepal.”

The Millennium Challenge Compact was created in 2004 during the presidency of George W. Bush. It has currently invested more than $14 billion in development projects in more than 40 countries.

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