Nepal, China move to golden era of bilateral relations

By Ritu Raj Subedi
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, April 27, 2018
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Nepal and China are poised to enter a golden era of cooperation and mutual friendship, thanks to the resolve of political leaderships from both nations to work in tandem and take bilateral bonhomie to a new level.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi holds talks with visiting Nepalese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara in Beijing, capital of China, Sept. 7, 2017. [Photo/Xinhua]

After decades of prolonged transition and foreign policy deviation, Nepal has witnessed political stability and received a majority government, which are essential to pursuing independent foreign policies and relations with neighbors. China has long desired stability in Nepal for the growth of investment and the smooth implementation of projects in the country.  

The Left Alliance, comprising CPN-UML and CPN-Maoist Centre, form the government under KP Sharma Oli, who enjoys huge popularity for his nationalistic stance and audacity. Oli is able to execute independent and balanced foreign policies on the back of the robust mandate he secured in the three-tier polls held last year.

In China, President Xi Jinping, who was recently reelected as the head of state, is very popular among the Chinese people for his bold reforms and deeds, which have enabled the world's second largest economy to lift millions of people out of poverty, maintain good governance and enhance China's global image. 

The ruling UML and Communist Party of China (CPC) have enjoyed a friendly relationship for a long time. Both Oli and Xi are inspired by high communist ideals. This ideological proximity may add new vigor to the China-Nepal relationship, thereby ushering in a golden era.  

Located between two giant economic powers, Nepal has adopted a policy of equidistance with them to reap optimal benefits from their stunning economic growth. 

"Our neighbors are the topmost priority in our foreign policy. We attach great importance to our relations with China," said Nepal's Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali at a joint press meet with his Chinese counterpart in Beijing recently. 

Gyawali wrapped up his five-day trip to China from April 16 to 20 as part of his preparations for high-level visits from both nations. PM Oli is expected to visit China next month, and Chinese President Xi is likely to come to Nepal within the year. 

Reiterating Nepal's firm commitment to its One China policy, Nepal's FM noted that their relations were guided by the Panchsheel, friendliness, cordiality, understanding, mutual cooperation, and appreciation of and respect for each other's aspirations and sensitivities.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that his country upheld the three principles of equality, mutual trust and common development to define relations with neighbors. "Now, our bilateral relationship is presented with new opportunities as China embarks on a new journey of socialism with Chinese characteristics," added Wang. 

Nepal has accorded priority to building transport connectivity, inter-state power transmission lines, modernization of agriculture, tourism promotion and development of people-to-people relations under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), to which it became a signatory last year.

In 2016, Nepal and China signed a string of accords, including the landmark trade and transit treaty that allowed Nepal access to the sea, but there has not been substantial progress in their implementation. It is believed that high-level visits from both sides will give momentum to the bilateral deals. 

It is imperative for both nations to unleash economic activity by establishing a value-chain system in the Himalayan belt. Nepal is rich in natural and locational resources and cheap labor force, while China has abundant financial resources, a manufacturing base, advanced technology and a large domestic market. Their combination should produce synergic economic impacts that lead to mutual benefit.

In order to attract foreign investors, Nepal has framed favorable policies and laws to provide security to their investment and profit. Moreover, Nepal has been granted duty- and quota-free market access for its goods in many developed countries. This can act as an incentive for potential Chinese investors to set up new industries here. 

For instance, for nine months of the current fiscal year 2017/2018, investors from China, India, USA and Japan poured around Rs 30.41 billion into Nepal to set up 10 big companies, with Chinese investment alone accounting for Rs. 27.6 billion.  

Nepal and China can work together to tap the country's huge tourism potential. Nepal has cultural, historical and breath-taking natural sites. More than 36,000 Chinese tourists visited Nepal in the first three months of 2018. Over 6,000 Nepalis are currently living in China for higher studies, business and other purposes. There is also a trend among Nepalis to choose China as a destination for tourism, study, training and sports programs. 

These positive developments have been attributed to an important bilateral bond that is expected to grow further, creating an exemplary tie between the two neighbors. 

Ritu Raj Subedi is an associate editor of The Rising Nepal.

Opinion articles reflect the views of their authors, not necessarily those of

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