Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli is now in China on a five-day official visit since Tuesday. The visit is sure to redefine Nepal-China relations based on the realities of 21stcentury. PM Oli is leading a strong delegation that will hold talks and reach agreements on crucial areas of connectivity and economic cooperation with the Chinese side. The new deals are expected to give momentum to the age-old relations between the two nations. But Nepal-China ties are not just confined to the diplomatic interactions and economic cooperation. They are characterised by the civilisational ethos and values. Prime Minister Oli has shed light on the social, cultural, religious and spiritual bonhomie between the two friendly nations while addressing a function organised by the Nepali embassy in Beijing the other day. He has rightly said Sino-Nepal relations are embedded in the history of civilisations. He invoked the teachings of Buddha and Confucius that stress on tolerance, compassion, harmony and moderation. In fact, Buddhism serves as the vibrant linkage between the two nations. Buddha was born in Nepal and became enlightened in India but his great knowledge and ideas of liberation spread to China, Korea, Japan and other nations in the Far East. Buddhism is the common heritage of people in the Asian continent. In the ancient time, Buddhist scholars had visited China, translated Buddhist scripts in Tibetan and Chinese languages and propagated it among the people. The emperor, courtiers and the commoners embraced it as the way of life and as a means to achieve inner peace, social harmony and order. Today the Chinese government is promoting Buddhism as ‘soft power’ to cement cultural bonds with people of different nations. This pragmatic approach of communist China is laudable and worth emulating.
In the ancient time, Nepal was the part of Silk Road that started from the southern belt of China and passed through Nepal, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, and reached up to Rome in Europe. Now China has rejuvenated the ancient Silk Roald through the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) that has been also endorsed by the United Nations. Termed as the project of century, the BRI has caught the fancy of around 100 nations with more than 60 countries formally joining it. It is the innovative concept of connectivity through the massive investment in rail, road and sea infrastructure. A string of South Asian nations, including Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the Maldives are its members. The BRI has begun to deliver economic dividends in Pakistan. Nepal is also effortful to reap benefits from it. According to PM Oli, Nepal and China have agreed to invigorate the Southern Silk Road that originated from the Sichuan Province of China. The connectivity and people to people contact are at the heart of BRI that called for win-win situation for all participating nations. While enthusiastically participating in the BRI, Nepal should seek its significant role in the BRI-led development activity. It is necessary to locate its position in the BRI map so as to clarify its theoretical standing. This is propitious for both the neighbours.