1st Edition

Reframing the Buffer State in Contemporary International Relations Nepal’s Relations with India and China

By Bibek Chand Copyright 2023
    180 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book explores buffer states' agency beyond being highly interactive spaces for the competing strategic and security interests of larger powers. Analyzing 21 political events, the author offers a new conceptual framework for the buffer state, which emphasizes strategic utility and agency. Applying this to the case study of Nepal as a buffer state between India and China, he offers a systematic analysis of Sino-Indian interests in the wider region, and Nepal’s interactions with and reactions to them, and argues that the buffer state in contemporary international relations is characterized by intense competitive overtures from its contending neighboring states. However, the buffer state is not just a spectator but an active participant that consistently assesses and reassesses its geopolitical position in between much larger competing powers. This reading offers a new understanding of the buffer state as a highly dynamic political space wherein the levels of influence and strategies of bigger powers can be examined.

    Aimed at a multidisciplinary audience, this book will be of particular interest to scholars, practitioners and students of international relations, security studies, strategic studies, and Asian Studies.

    1. Introduction

    2. Discussing the Buffer State Concept: Old and New Frameworks

    3. Contextualizing Nepal as a Buffer State

    4. Timeframe I: Critical Junctures 1947–62

    5. Timeframe II: Critical Junctures 1962–90

    6. Timeframe III: Critical Junctures 1990–2008

    7. Timeframe IV: Critical Junctures 2009–2022

    8. Conclusion


    Bibek Chand is Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science and International Affairs at the University of North Georgia, USA. His research interests include Sino-Indian interactions in Asia, international relations of small states, the emerging notion of the Indo-Pacific, Nepal’s foreign policy, and geopolitics.

    "In addressing Nepal’s precarious position between India and China, Bibek Chand breaks new ground by illuminating the agency of buffer states rather than accepting them as passive political actors lacking foreign policy options. Navigating through 21 critical junctures in Nepal’s past and present, Chand clearly reveals a system wherein the two buffered states’ overtures have fluctuated within the buffer state. Significantly, he also shows how Nepal has maximized agency variously through neutrality, internationalization of diplomacy and forging closer ties with one of the buffered states, based on context and circumstances. This dynamic buffer state framework – based on the strategic utility of the contending states as well as the agency of the buffer state – provides a new way of understanding the concept and helps to keep it relevant to modern international relations." 

    -- Sanjay Upadhya, Nepali author and analyst & Former BBC Correspondent