POLITICS

China will help Nepal end its landlocked status, says Xi Jinping

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday vowed to help Nepal transform itself from a landlocked country to a land-linked nation by facilitating infrastructure connectivity and transit transportation cooperation as he met Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’.

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday vowed to help Nepal transform itself from a landlocked country to a land-linked nation by facilitating infrastructure connectivity and transit transportation cooperation as he met Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’.

Xi met Prachanda on the sidelines of the Hangzhou Asian Games here in eastern China.

Prachanda, who politically distanced from the pro-China Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) headed by KP Oli after becoming Prime Minister in December last year made his maiden visit to China after visiting India and the US.

In his meeting with Prachanda, Xi who made a high-profile visit to Nepal in 2019 and announced several high-profile projects said the two countries sharing borders through Tibet made progress with the ‘Trans-Himalayan Multi-Dimensional Connectivity Network’ and other ‘Belt and Road’ projects that have “taken shape”.

He urged efforts from both sides to promote infrastructure connectivity and expand transit transportation cooperation to help Nepal transform itself from a landlocked country to a land-linked country at an early date, state-run Xinhua news agency quoted him as saying.

The trans-Himalayan connectivity projects include road and rail connectivity being laid through the rugged Himalayan mountains connecting Nepal with Tibet.

As a landlocked country, much of its imports go through India. China wants to weigh in to reduce Nepal’s dependence on India as part of efforts to expand its own influence.

Critics however say that most of the Chinese projects in Nepal were stuck, including the border infrastructure as Beijing closed its borders during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Nepal signed a transport-transit agreement to access seven ports in China; nine BRI projects were selected, and the “Trans-Himalayan Multi-Dimensional Connectivity Network” umbrella concept was presented, enhancing cross-border cooperation” according to Pragya Ghimire of the Institute of Foreign Affairs, Nepal.

“When Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Nepal in 2019, the two countries signed seven bilateral agreements, but most were not implemented”, she wrote in an article published in the Nepalese daily, the Kathmandu Post ahead of Dahal’s eight-day visit during which he is scheduled to visit Tibet.

In his meeting with Prachanda, Xi said “The two sides should always understand and support each other on issues concerning each other’s core interests and major concerns, and constantly consolidate the political foundation of bilateral relations”.

For his part Prachanda said Xi is a visionary global leader and a good friend of all Nepalese people, Xinhua reported. Hailing Nepal and China as friends and partners who can understand, rely on and support each other, Prachanda reiterated Nepal’s firm adherence to the one-China policy, he said. 

Under the one-China policy, Nepal cracks down on Tibetan visits to India through the land borders to meet the Dalai Lama. Both Taiwan and Tibet are inalienable parts of China’s territory, and Nepal will not allow any force to use its territory to undermine China’s sovereignty and security, Dahal told Xi adding that this position is firm and unshakable.

He noted that Nepal highly appreciates the Belt and Road Initiative and will actively participate in Belt and Road cooperation and that it will also promote the construction of the Trans-Himalayan Multi-Dimensional Connectivity Network.

Both countries were expected to sign several agreements to boost Chinese investments in Nepal, according to Nepalese media reports. Meanwhile, Nepal Prime Minister ‘Prachanda’s press advisor Govinda Acharya said, “The two leaders agreed on forging collaboration among all the regional forces on issues relating to regional stability, peace and progress.”

The two leaders agreed to intensify mutual cooperation by understanding each other’s concerns and sensitivities, Acharya said. “Xi said he was ready to collaborate and cooperate with an open heart in matters relating to Nepal’s economic and social development.”

“Nepal and China have taken forward very close relations without any discrimination regarding small and big countries, recognizing mutual respect, support and coexistence by pursuing five principles of peaceful co-existence,” Xi said during the meeting.

“He also expressed confidence that the relations between the two countries will be taken to a new height in the days ahead,” government daily Gorkhapatra reported quoting press advisor Acharya.

Elaborating on the existing historical relations between Nepal and China for a long time, Prime Minister Prachanda said that the new concepts floated by President Xi will prove significant for the peace and development of this region.

Prachanda has directly flown to China from New York, where he addressed the 78th General Assembly of the United Nations.

The Prime Minister is accompanied by Foreign Minister N.P. Saud and other senior officials during his official visit to China. After meeting President Xi, Prachanda will visit Beijing, where he will participate in a bilateral talks with his Chinese counterpart Li Qiang on September 25.

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