With tensions escalating between the US and China, the Himalayan country of Nepal has emerged as a new frontier between the two rivals competing for geopolitical influence.

While the US has denied any malice in intention, China believes it is an American ploy to court Nepal into the Indo-Pacific strategy.

In February, Nepal’s Parliament ratified a $500 million US government aid under the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) after weeks of back and forth among the ruling coalition. The issue sparked mass protests in the country over fears that Kathmandu could lose its sovereignty.

The ratification sent alarm bells ringing in China, which shares a border with Nepal and has been assisting it with several developmental projects under its Belt and Road Initiative.

Chinese State media Global Times had then referred to the pact as US manipulation of Nepal aimed at targeting China