Nepal Awaiting Xi’s Visit

Mohan Lohani

The six-day long official visit in June this year by Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli to China, described as successful and fruitful by people representing different sections of society, including the media, has without doubt further cemented the bonds of traditional friendship and deepened mutually beneficial cooperation in wide ranging areas from connectivity to investment in productive sectors. The 14-point Joint Statement issued at the end of the prime minister’s visit to China deals comprehensively with the entire gamut of bilateral relations focusing on issues of mutual interest and concern.

Cordial Ties
It goes without saying that ever since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries in August 1955, Nepal-China relations have remained close, cordial, cooperative and mutually supportive. While China has appreciated Nepal’s consistent support for the former’s rightful place in the UN and the latter’s unflinching commitment to ‘One China’ policy, Nepal too has noted with appreciation China’s generous assistance in this country’s development endeavors and activities ranging from infrastructure building, such as roads and highways, bridges, hydropower, and communications so vital to the process of industrialisation, to water resource development, health, education, sports complex, construction of International Convention Center (ICC), City Hall, Kathmandu Ring Road and the recently constructed 800-metre 4-lane Kalanki underpass expected to serve as the major entry point to Kathmandu Valley.
The signing of the Transit Transport Agreement during PM Oli’s China visit in 2016 has become a milestone in bilateral relations. The Agreement has not become operational because of ongoing negotiations on the Protocol, and the leaders of both countries, in view of the importance attached to this Agreement, have asked the concerned ministries and departments to expedite the negotiations as early as possible. Likewise, both sides have expressed happiness over the signing of the MoU on cooperation for Railway Connectivity.
It has been lauded as the most significant initiative in the history of bilateral cooperation. Railway Connectivity, linking Lhasa to Kathmandu and further on from Pokhara to Lumbini is believed to inaugurate a new era of cross-border connectivity between the two countries. In fact, Nepal has continued to accord priority to railway connectivity.
An eminent scholar of Nepal on China has observed that Nepal-China relations are unique and exemplary in terms of the friendliest and cooperative relations between the highly populated and prosperous country which plays an influential and decisive role in international affairs and a small LDC bogged down in poverty and underdevelopment. China, however, looks upon the bilateral relationship based on the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence (Panchasheel) as ‘a model of harmonious coexistence between countries of different size and social system.’ China has, furthermore, admired the efforts made by Nepal in upholding its sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity, national unity and stability.
China has strongly supported the cause and legitimate interests of developing, the least developed and landlocked developing countries (LDCs and LLDCs) in the UN and other multilateral forums. Nepal hopes to graduate from LDC status by 2022 with generous assistance and cooperation from friends like China. In this context, China’s firm commitment to the rules-based multilateral trading regime under WTO, and work for a more open, inclusive and balanced economic globalisation with special preference to the LDCs and LLDCs is highly commendable.
China and India are Nepal’s close neighbour and development partners. Nepal has noted with appreciation the Neighborhood Policy being pursued by China and India. It is in the interest of Nepal to maintain balanced relations between its immediate neighbours and benefit from their high growth rate by attracting investment capital and technology on favourable terms and conditions, including grants.
It is heartening to note that in recent years, both China and India have made efforts to improve their relations. Indian experts have referred to the meeting of President Xi Jinping and PM Modi three times within a span of 4 months, e.g. an informal bilateral summit in the Chinese city of Wuhan in April, followed by their meetings in June and July on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in China’s Qingdao and the BRICS summit in Johannesburg. Nepal welcomes such meetings as positive.

New Avenues
PM Oli, at the end of his visit to China, has extended invitation to the Chinese leaders, President Xi and Premier Li Keqiang, to visit Nepal within this year. In fact, after President Jiang Zemin’s visit to Nepal about two decades ago, no visit from China at the highest level has taken place.
Nepal is eagerly expecting President Xi Jinping to pay a friendly visit to this country so that relations so happily existing between the two countries will be elevated to a new height. Besides, President Xi’s visit, apart from opening up new avenues of cooperation, will provide added impetus and momentum to the ongoing negotiations on cooperation agreements already signed between the two countries.

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