Melinda Liu, Newsweek Beijing Bureau Chief, spoke at SAIS on Thursday on the Chinese attitude post-Iraq. She was engaging in that regard (read the fuller account here) but particularly notable for her comments on Nepal, where the Maoist rebellion is blighting a country one State Department researcher described as proof that low economic development and abject misery were not doomed to go hand in hand. Liu described the determination of longtime expatriate friends in Nepal that the Maoists would gain the upper hand and make Nepal unliveable; they had already made arrangements to leave the country, having spent decades there in peace. Beijing, ironically, wants good terms with any Nepalese regime but feels a certain awkwardness toward Nepal's bands of fanatical throwbacks. "Straight outta the 50s," Liu said, Nepal's Maoist movement is complete with armed women's groups, austere uniforms, and communist dance circles. But for all the kitsch, Nepal is descending into what Liu flatly described as a "mess." What are the implications for the China-India relationship? Picture a morass of spreading complications, dilemmas, Hobson's choices. Nobody wants what is happening in Nepal except a pack of wild atavists. Disaster there is their responsibility, everyone else's problem.
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