Kathmandu, 24th December,2014 : A new chapter in Nepal-China relations is expected to open up with the Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s three-day goodwill visit beginning from Thursday. The people in both countries are watching this visit with interest and enthusiasm as it is the first visit at the Foreign Minister’s level following the change in governments along with the
political leadership in the two countries.
This visit by the Chinese Foreign Minister which is taken as a continuation of the visit last year by the State Councilor of the People’s Republic of China, Yang Jiechi, who is in the second position in terms of the protocol after the Chinese Prime Minister, makes it clear that the new Chinese leadership attaches high priority to its relations with Nepal.
In the views of foreign relations experts who have been observing the Nepal-China relations for long, Wang’s visit would mainly focus on the present political situation of Nepal, extending a hand in some development projects and drawing the attention of senior Nepali officials and the political leadership to China’s security concerns.
They believe that high-level visits as this would help further strengthen the bilateral relations, and the exchange of views at different levels of high officials, in further identifying the areas of mutual benefit and support their implementation.
The interest China has shown in Nepal and its heavy presence in recent times is centred on Tibetan affairs, says Former Foreign Secretary Kedar Bhakta Shrestha. He believes although China is assured of Nepal’s one China policy, Beijing is conscious seeing the possibility of its sensitivities being hurt due to the Tibetan refugees. Shrestha, who says it is necessary to also show in practice that Nepal’s soil would not be allowed to be used against any country, points out that Nepal could collaborate with China in many sectors of mutual benefit like investment, trade and tourism, among others.
The topic that is of its utmost concern is its internal security. Tibet is obviously the topic that is of utmost concern to China in its relations with Nepal. China has taken Nepal as its strategic partner for development assistance as well as other areas and it has been dealing with it accordingly, as its concerns would be addressed best if its neighbour Nepal is stable, peaceful and prosperous.
The specialty of the Chinese foreign policy is evidenced from the Chinese top leadership that has assumed the reins of the government with a leadership change in the Communist Party of China, publicising its foreign policy of behaving equally without discrimination between big and small countries and maintaining consistency in what it says and does. Both Nepal and China which are fully committed to the Panchasheel (the five principles of peaceful co-existence) and the UN Charter have been working together in regional and international fora – a solid basis for consolidating the bilateral relations.
Vice-president of the China Study Centre and former Nepalese Ambassador to China, Sundar Nath Bhattarai, says high-level visits like this one not only help strengthen the bilateral ties but also become fruitful in garnering cooperation for development projects. “I have taken the Chinese Foreign Minister’s this visit as the preparation for paving the way for the Chinese President Xi Jinping’s upcoming visit to Nepal,” he said, referring to the lack of visit from China at the President’s level for the last 18 years. He believes that the closer Nepal’s ties are with its northern neighbour that occupies an important place in the country’s foreign policy, the more Nepal stands to benefit.
The main purpose of Wang’s visit is to take stock of the preset political situation, constitution writing and acquiring onsite information of social and economic development projects run with Chinese assistance. How the new government addresses Chinese security concerns is also taken to be equally significant. China believes that its security concerns could be addressed only by a peaceful, stable and prosperous Nepal. Highly sensitive on the Tibet issue, China wants that Nepal’s territory is not at all used for any activities against it. Nepal is also steadfast towards the One China Policy.
Carrying out a review of projects run with Chinese assistance as well as exploring the possibility of construction of new projects of mutual benefit and interest is also the objective of this visit. Discussions would be held at the delegation level talks between the two countries on topics as upgrading the Kathmandu-Rasuwagadhi, Pokhara-Baglung and Beni-Jomsom roads, speedy completion of the dry port under construction at Larcha of Sindhupalchok, building a similar port at Rasuwagadhi, a new transit point, expanding and upgrading the Dhulikhel-Tatopani road and the establishment ofÂ a Chinese bank in Nepal.
Discussions would be held in the Nepal-China Foreign Minister level talks also on Pokhara regional airport, West Seti and Trishuli-A Hydroelectricity Projects, the ongoing expansion of the Ring Road in Kathmandu and possible ways of resolving the problems faced by development and construction projects handled by the Chinese companies in Sindhupalchok and other places. The objective of the bilateral talks is to encourage the Chinese private sector that has been making maximum investment in Nepal for further mobilisation of its capital in development and construction projects.
Coincidentally, China has extended the inter-country transport network linking Kathmandu with Lhasa by officially opening the Rasuwagadhi-Kerung transit point this month alone. This transit point which is not only of long-term significance for Nepal-China relations but also for expanding regional connectivity is taken to be an alternative to the Araniko Highway that has been connecting Nepal with the Tibet Autonomous Region of China for almost half a century now. This second transit point that links Kathmandu to Lhasa is also the shortest road that connects Tibet with Birgunj and the Indian market via Rasuwa, Nuwakot and Galchhi of Dhading.
Once the Chinese railway line that has extended to Sigatse via Lhasa connects to Kerung, it will ease bilateral trade as well as greatly help in the movement of people.
The policy of enhancing neighbours’ economic prosperity together with China’s brought forth by the Chinese President Xi as per China’s policy of developing the Silk Road economic zone by maintaining close, sincere and cordial ties with neighbours is a reflection of China’s desire for prosperous neighbours. China’s foreign policy towards Nepal is also expressed in this policy.
China which is an observer to the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) appointing a permanent representative to this regional group of eight countries reflects its keen desire to strengthen its relations with South Asia including Nepal.
Chief Secretary Lilamani Poudyal who has already served as Nepal’s Consular General to Lhasa, emphasises that Chinese Foreign Minister Wang’s this visit should be taken as an opportunity to take the cordial and cooperative relations between the two countries to a new height. He says the government has focused its attention to take maximum benefits from China’s stability and prosperity as it would complement Nepal’s development.
China has significantly provided physical and technical support to Nepal’s socio-economic development with the establishment of diplomatic ties between Nepal and China in 1955. Next year marks the diamond jubilee of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. It is almost certain that Beijing will broaden the area of its economic cooperation to Nepal that it has been providing in order to making the six decades long mutual relations deeper and cooperative.
China which has been providing 150 million RMB in its annual assistance to Nepal has informed the concerned officials of the Government of Nepal that it would upscale the annual assistance to 800 million RMB.
Bilateral relations between Nepal and China dating back to 406 BC are intensifying of late with high-level visits like that of Wang. The White Pagoda that Nepal’s ancient architect Araniko constructed in Beijing has remained as the immortal symbol of Nepal-China friendship for centuries while a dozen of development projects operating in Nepal with Chinese cooperation remain as milestones in this bilateral relation. Foreign Minister Wang’s visit will add another brick to this and make this cordial relation further stronger and deeper.
Source : RSS (Translated by Deepraj Sanyal)