Nepal can be a bridge be­tween China and In­dia

People's Review - - LASTPAGE -

GT: On De­cem­ber 11, 2017, an ar­ti­cle head lined" Nepal Lists to the Left" in In­dian To­day wrote ," In­dia is not pleased with the emer­gence of the Left Al­liance. The U ML leader and prob­a­ble next Prime Min­is­ter, K. P. O li, was pre­vi­ously a close ally of New Delhi, but their agen­das di­verged when he was prime min­is­ter in 201516." Is this ar­ti­cle cor­rect?

Oli: I do not want to go af­ter one me­dia commentary or the other. Me­dia write many things - some true, some par­tially true and some com­pletely un­true. One needs to un­der­stand that the idea of left unity is not new. For years, peo­ple of Nepal have de­sired to see a strong and united left force that could win the elec­tions and pro­vide just and sta­ble gov­ern­ment and de­liver devel­op­ment. This could not hap­pen in the past and left votes used to be di­vided. This time, we were fac­ing a crucial mo­ment in the coun­try's his­tory. Fol­low­ing the his­toric pro­mul­ga­tion of the Con­sti­tu­tion, we wanted to leave be­hind years of long and painful po­lit­i­cal tran­si­tion that was costly and detri­men­tal to the coun­try's devel­op­ment, not em­bark into an­other era of tran­si­tional pol­i­tics in which gov­ern­ments would be per­pet­u­ally weak and ev­ery New Year would see a new gov­ern­ment. This his­toric na­tional need solely mo­ti­vated us to forge the Left Al­liance be­fore the elec­tion and ul­ti­mately merger of the two ma­jor left par­ties. This mon­u­men­tal devel­op­ment in Nepal's po­lit­i­cal his­tory would re­ceive due jus­tice if it is seen as ab­so­lutely emerg­ing out of our na­tional need rather than un­nec­es­sar­ily be­ing linked to ex­ter­nal­i­ties. Since the for­ma­tion of our gov­ern­ment, we have in­ten­si­fied en­gage­ments with both our neigh­bors. In this short span of time, there have been ex­changes of prime min­is­te­rial vis­its be­tween Nepal and In­dia and I now visit China. We have made it clear that we pur­sue an in­de­pen­dent for­eign pol­icy and a bal­anced out­look in the con­duct of in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions based on the ob­ser­vance of such fun­da­men­tal prin­ci­ples as equal­ity, jus­tice, mu­tual re­spect and ben­e­fit as well as non-in­ter­fer­ence. In for­eign pol­icy con­duct, our two neigh­bors nat­u­rally re­ceive top pri­or­ity and with both of them, our re­la­tions are broad, com­pre­hen­sive and mul­ti­fac­eted.

GT: Is Nepal the "land of the com­pe­ti­tion "or" bridge and In­dia?

Oli: Nepal has re­mained a sov­er­eign and in­de­pen­dent na­tion through­out his­tory and has never de­vi­ated from its well-pro­nounced for­eign pol­icy dic­tum of "friend­ship to­ward all and en­mity to­ward none." We are firmly com­mit­ted to not al­low­ing our ter­ri­tory to be used against the sov­er­eign in­ter­ests of our neigh­bors. We have the re­solve to main­tain this and we nat­u­rally ex­pect sim­i­lar as­sur­ance from our neigh­bors. Given this pol­icy per­cept that guides us and given the level of good­will and sense of sol­i­dar­ity both our neigh­bors and their peo­ple have to­ward Nepal, I see a good prospect of co­op­er­a­tion among our three coun­tries. Nepal's de­vel­op­men­tal needs are im­mense and we can ma­te­ri­al­ize our dreams for growth and pros­per­ity only through mean­ing­ful and mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial eco­nomic part­ner­ship with both our neigh­bors. For­tu­nately for us, both our neigh­bors are ris­ing in global stature and mak­ing tremen­dous progress in ev­ery area of devel­op­ment. They are in a po­si­tion to sup­port Nepal in its de­vel­op­men­tal jour­ney. We be­lieve that Nepal can serve as a bridge be­tween our two neigh­bors. In fact, we want to move from the state of a land­locked to a land-linked coun­try through the devel­op­ment of ad­e­quate cross bor­der con­nec­tiv­ity. Our friend­ship with both neigh­bors places us in an ad­van­ta­geous po­si­tion to re­al­ize this goal.

GT: What do you think is the sig­nif­i­cance of China' s so­cial­ist road with Chi­nese char­ac­ter­is­tics for Nepal' s devel­op­ment goals?

Oli: China's un­prece­dented progress and spec­tac­u­lar achieve­ments have as­ton­ished the world. China has cho­sen a devel­op­ment path that suits its needs and con­di­tions. China's so­cial­ist path has shown a suc­cess­ful model of devel­op­ment in­formed by its own re­al­i­ties and char­ac­ter­is­tics. As a close neigh­bor with a long his­tory of friend­ship and co­op­er­a­tion, we have al­ways ad­mired what China has been able to achieve in many fields over the years. We can learn lessons from China's im­pres­sive per­for­mance, its progress and pros­per­ity as well as its con­tri­bu­tion to build­ing over­all na­tional strength. We be­lieve that "one-siz­e­fits-all" ap­proach can­not ad­dress all the prob­lems rooted in dif­fer­ent so­cial, con­texts. A progressive and so­cial­ist move­ment will have to be de­vel­oped in­dige­nously. Mere im­i­ta­tion of devel­op­ment mod­els with­out tak­ing into con­sid­er­a­tion the coun­try's spe­cific sit­u­a­tions and ground re­al­i­ties will not pro­vide a de­sired out­come. It will not be suc­cess­ful. So, ground re­al­i­ties dic­tate devel­op­ment path and ob­jec­tives of any coun­try. Our goal is to de­velop so­cial­ism with Nepali at­tributes. Our con­sti­tu­tion al­ready pro­vides guid­ance to­ward this end. Ours is a so­cial­ism-ori­ented fed­eral demo­cratic repub­lic state.

GT: How do you eval­u­ate the cur­rent in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nist move­ment? What con­tri­bu­tion can the Com­mu­nist Party of Nepal make to it?

Oli: At present, the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nist move­ment is gain­ing ground in some coun­tries, but also los­ing ground in other parts of the world. It is a mat­ter of delight that the com­mu­nist move­ment of Nepal is pro­gress­ing in a sat­is­fac­tory man­ner. As an en­doge­nous and in­de­pen­dent move­ment, we are con­tribut­ing to en­hance the im­age of the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nist move­ment. We have de­vel­oped and im­ple­mented a new po­lit­i­cal-ide­o­log­i­cal line and prac­ticed it suc­cess­fully. There may be dif­fer­ent reasons for the fail­ures of the com­mu­nist move­ments in dif­fer­ent coun­tries, but in­ap­pro­pri­ate pol­icy de­ci­sions are cer­tainly among them. Thus, as an emerg­ing and suc­cess­ful ex­am­ple, our ex­pe­ri­ence de­mands that there should be a se­ri­ous dis­cus­sion on the ques­tion of so­cial change, so­cial man­age­ment, the chang­ing global con­text and con­tem­po­rary times.

GT: How do you see China' s Belt and Road ini­tia­tive (BRI)?

Oli: This is an im­por­tant ini­tia­tive launched by Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping with the aim of pro­mot­ing con­nec­tiv­ity and co­op­er­a­tion among the

coun­tries in the re­gion and be­yond. He has out­lined a vi­sion of com­mu­nity of shared destiny. We be­lieve that BRI should be ben­e­fi­cial to all the par­tic­i­pat­ing coun­tries. Nepal wants to ben­e­fit from the Ini­tia­tive and at the same time, works for the ben­e­fit of the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity.

GT: Nepal has re­port­edly can­celled the con­tract for the con­struc­tion of the sec­ond-largest hy­dro power project with China Three Gorges Cop ora­tion af­ter the can­cel­la­tion of the co­op­er­a­tion with Gezhouba Group to build the largest hy­dro power project in Nepal last year. Are these re­ports true? Are these de­ci­sions in­flu­enced by ex­ter­nal forces?

Oli: The present gov­ern­ment of Nepal does not work un­der any ex­ter­nal in­flu­ence or pres­sure. We pur­sue an in­de­pen­dent for­eign pol­icy and ex­er­cise au­ton­omy in mak­ing de­ci­sions that af­fect us. We do not com­pro­mise on our sovereignty and in­de­pen­dence. West Seti hy­dropower project is un­der con­sid­er­a­tion by In­vest­ment Board of Nepal. No de­ci­sion has been taken yet. A task force is work­ing to make rec­om­men­da­tions to the Board. It will come out with ap­pro­pri­ate sug­ges­tions on the vi­a­bil­ity of the project. It may take some time. Statements from the In­vest­ment Board of Nepal and the Min­istry of Fi­nance have al­ready clar­i­fied the po­si­tion of the gov­ern­ment of Nepal on not been can­celled. West Seti is our na­tional pri­or­ity project and our de­ci­sion on its ex­e­cu­tion is ab­so­lutely guided by the con­sid­er­a­tions of what is best in our na­tional in­ter­est. Such de­ci­sions are never guided by ex­ter­nal fac­tors. I would like to re­it­er­ate here that this gov­ern­ment pur­sues an in­de­pen­dent for­eign pol­icy and is ca­pa­ble of mak­ing in­formed de­ci­sions on what is good for the coun­try. So, we must be care­ful about mis­lead­ing me­dia re­ports. Nepal and China could work to­gether for the devel­op­ment of hy­dropower in Nepal. Chi­nese com­pa­nies have ac­quired enough ex­pe­ri­ence in this field through their in­volve­ment in over­seas power gen­er­a­tion pro­jects.

GT: What do you think of the prospects of co­op­er­a­tion be­tween China and Nepal? In what ar­eas can we further strengthen co­op­er­a­tion? Is it pos­si­ble that China's Qing­hai-Ti­bet Rail­way ex­tend into Nepal?

Oli: There is a very good prospect for ex­pand­ing co­op­er­a­tion be­tween Nepal and China. Af­ter the set­tle­ment of po­lit­i­cal is­sues, so­cio-eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion is our key agenda ahead. Devel­op­ment can­not take place with­out in­vest­ment in vi­tal in­fra­struc­ture and pro­duc­tive sec­tors. Con­nec­tiv­ity re­mains at the core of eco­nomic pros­per­ity. Here, our friendly neigh­bor, China, can help us a lot. China has devel­op­ment goals. What we need is to de­velop a frame­work of part­ner­ship to pro­mote collaboration and co­op­er­a­tion for mu­tual ben­e­fit. For us, devel­op­ment of in­fra­struc­ture, road and rail­way net­works, agri­cul­ture, en­ergy, trans­mis­sion lines, ex­pan­sion of trade, pro­mo­tion of tourism, ed­u­ca­tion, hu­man re­sources devel­op­ment and health and in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy are pri­or­ity sec­tors and we be­lieve that bi­lat­eral co­op­er­a­tion be­tween our two coun­tries in these sec­tors would be ben­e­fi­cial for us. Hy­dropower of­fers a promis­ing hope for trans­form­ing our devel­op­ment land­scape. We in­vite Chi­nese in­vest­ment in this and many other pro­duc­tive sec­tors. Cross-bor­der con­nec­tiv­ity is our top pri­or­ity. Both sides have dis­cussed de­vel­op­ing a mul­tidi­men­sional trans-Hi­malayan con­nec­tiv­ity net­work. This will en­hance over­all con­nec­tiv­ity be­tween our two coun­tries. Our two coun­tries are work­ing se­ri­ously to estab­lish cross-bor­der rail­way con­nec­tiv­ity. Kerung- Ra­suwa­gad­hiKath­mandu- PokharaLumbini rail­way project has re­ceived pri­or­ity in our part­ner­ship. I am ex­pect­ing a pos­i­tive out­come on this dur­ing my visit. Once es­tab­lished, this will her­ald a new era of con­nec­tiv­ity be­tween the two coun­tries, open­ing up vast op­por­tu­ni­ties for trade, in­vest­ment, tourism and peo­ple-to-peo­ple re­la­tions.

Nepali Prime Min­is­ter K.P. Sharma Oli (Oli) is vis­it­ing China from June 19 to 24, his first to China af­ter re­elec­tion in Fe­bru­ary. What's his take on the co­op­er­a­tion be­tween China and Nepal? What does he think of Nepal's re­la­tions with China and In­dia? Global Times (GT) correspondent Chen Jianyang talked with Prime Min­is­ter Oli on these is­sues in an in­ter­view.

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