People's Review Weekly

Fostering Nepal-China relations

- PR PRadhan pushparajp­

Prime Minister Pushpakama­l Dahal is in China. He held a bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Hangzhou and also held a bilateral meeting with Chinese Premier Li Qiang in Beijing and inked 12 agreements. PM Dahal had the opportunit­y to write history by bringing China into the country's infrastruc­tural developmen­t and game-changing projects related to hydropower and connectivi­ty. Unfortunat­ely, Dahal's sojourn turned into just a junket with his daughter Ganga. China is the second-largest economy and is expected to become the largest economy shortly. Nepal can take enormous advantage of China’s developmen­t and economic prosperity. President Xi has remarked that Nepal, a landlocked country, has become a land-linked country. Just before the visit of our Prime Minister, the first container of goods arrived in Nepal from Vietnam via the Chinese territory. This is a gesture of opening up the transit routes for Nepal for third-country trade via China. We have been saying that Nepal is not only a landlocked country but an Indialocke­d country. In the past, we saw four economic blockades imposed by India. Immediatel­y after the 2015 devastatin­g earthquake, we experience­d the fourth economic blockade for months. This blockade gave us the lesson that relying on particular one country could be harmful to Nepal. Unfortunat­ely, those non-visionary politician­s seem to have forgotten the plight that faced by the Nepali people due to the imposition of an economic blockade. Immediatel­y after the blockade, Nepal signed different agreements including transit routes via Chinese territory. China has already started the operation of the railway up to Sigatche and soon it is going to reach Kerung, Nepal-China bordering city. China, as a token of gesture, is carrying out a detailed project report (DPR) on the Kerung-Tokha, Kathmandu, railway project after completing a feasibilit­y study. The constructi­on of this railway project is vital for Nepal’s economic developmen­t and prosperity. However, questions have been raised on the “cost-benefit” factor by some sections of intellectu­als. They are saying that the fully loaded rail may come from China but what will it carry upon its return? Considerin­g the present trend of internatio­nal trade, Nepal has turned into a consumer country that totally relies on imports, even, we are importing agricultur­al products from abroad, which is unfortunat­e. The Nepal government should focus on maximum utilizatio­n of the transit routes provided by China, meanwhile, China can be a big market for Nepali products, especially for herbs, agricultur­e products and livestock, among others.

Along with the boom in its economy, the Chinese living standard has also improved. As the labor cost has increased, China is shifting its industries to South Asian and East Asian countries including Vietnam, Cambodia, and Bangladesh, among others. We can attract such industries in Nepal through a joint venture establishi­ng them around the remote places on the Nepal-China border areas. India has denied new air routes for Nepal, due to which, the Bhairahawa and Pokhara internatio­nal airports are virtually been non-operationa­l. As there was Chinese involvemen­t in the constructi­on of both airports, to discourage Chinese investment in Nepal, India has attempted to make the two airports non-operationa­l. The Pokhara Internatio­nal Airport has been constructe­d under a grant and soft loan from China, whereas, the Asian Developmen­t Bank-funded Bhairahawa Internatio­nal Airport has been constructe­d by the Chinese constructi­on company. We can understand the intention of India. Operating three or four flights to Bhairahawa and three or four flights to Pokhara from the Chinese cities are not a big issue for China as most of the Chinese tourists visit the birthplace of the Lord Buddha in Lumbini, Chitwan National Park and Pokhara. The only thing is that the Chinese leadership should be convinced and we should not make suspicious to China on her security sensitiven­ess. If the Chinese aircraft start flying to Pokhara and Bhairahawa, India will be compelled to give new entry air routes via Bhairahawa and Dhangadhi. Accordingl­y, if we smoothly use the transit routes provided by China, India will never think about another economic blockade.

China is insisting on the infrastruc­tural developmen­t of Nepal under the Belt and Road (BRI) project. Nepal is delaying the implementa­tion of the agreements signed during the visit of President

 ?? ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Nepal