Recently on April 25, Nepal was devastated by an earthquake. As Nepal’s ally, UK has been quick to supply humanitarian assistance. According to News Hour (see link here), UK government’s humanitarian response now stands at £22.8 million. Although providing humanitarian aid is a philanthropic move to help those that are in need, from public diplomacy perspective, this is a strategy to strengthen ties with another country.
Thinking back to 2011, US also provided monetary and onsite assistance to Japan post Great East Japan Earthquake. For example through the Tomodachi Initiative, the US and Japan military cooperated, boosting relief efforts. This has resulted in re-establishing U.S.-Japan ties. Since then, the Tomodachi Initiative has been revamped to specifically build and strengthen mutual-understanding between the two countries via educational and business program exchanges for students and adults.
In general, UK-Nepal relations have been good and according to the Nepal’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “relations between the two countries have been characterized by friendship, mutual understanding and respect for each other’s national interest and aspirations” (see link here). And what is quite unique and interesting about UK is the British Army recruits their Gurkha soldiers from Nepal. Nepal is not a dependent territory of UK.
While Nepal has benefited from this bilateral relationship receiving support from UK in various activities–mostly in forms of development support and providing human resources–I am curious to learn what advantages this brings to UK. For example, what is it that UK gain by maintaining friendly relations with Nepal? After all, the ultimate goal of public diplomacy is to support a country’s foreign policy goals. Furthermore, a country does not simply give unless there is a strategic value in their investment. Hence, I think it will be interesting to see how UK-Nepal relations progress throughout time and see if any changes occur. And if changes do occur, what is the impetus for change?