China on Friday (Jan 12) became Nepalâ€™s second internet service provider, breaking Indiaâ€™s monopoly in providing internet access to the Himalayan Kingdom.
The Hong Kong and Beijing based China Telecom Global (CTG) â€” a company formed in 2012 â€” has teamed up with Nepal Telecom to provide alternate cyber-connectivity to Nepal.
So far, Nepal had been linked to the global internet network through Indian telecom operators, using optical fiber connections in Biratnagar, Bhairahawa and Birgunj, among others.
But a new terrestrial fiber cable launched in 2016 by CTG will now connect Nepal and China through the Jilong (Rasuwagadhi) border gateway. Media reports in Nepal say that the new fiber link extends to Chinaâ€™s Hong Kong Data Center â€” one of Asiaâ€™s largest global data centers.
Last month CTG paired with Daily-Tech, a developer and operator of data center infrastructure across China, and Global Switch, a leading data center in Europe, to launch a state-of-the art data center in Hong Kong.
The Chinese side views its Nepal venture as part of a larger digital network of countries along the New Silk Road.
â€œWe want to build a grand corridor and a big platform for telecommunication. Iâ€™d call this an â€˜information-centered high-speed linkâ€™ along the Belt and Road routes. This offers our company a great opportunity. This opportunity also belongs to all of our partner companies participating in the Belt and Road Initiative. We can develop together,â€ says Deng Xiaofeng, CTGâ€™s general manager, in an interview with the state-broadcaster China Global Television Network (CGTN).
Mr. Deng highlighted that following the Nepal project, CTG has expanded Internet services to Pakistan, Laos and Thailand.
Chinaâ€™s latest initiative is part of a larger effort to provide landlocked Nepal with additional physical and digital connectivity.
The Nepali website, Online Khabar is reporting that the new left alliance-led government, apparently well-disposed towards China, is keen to construct a 4.2 km road tunnel that will shorten travel time to two-and-a half hours from Kathmandu to Rasuwagadhi â€” the cross border point with China.
The website that the Nepali government has already approached the Beijing based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) for support in funding the project.
Separately, China appears to be making efforts to build ties in the Nepalâ€™s Terai plains area, where Indian influence is seemingly strong.
Xinhua is reporting that China is funneling humanitarian aid through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) that will benefit 31,800 household in the Terai region, which was hit by floods last
August. A post-flood assessment conducted by the government of Nepal found that 1.7 million people were affected by the disaster.