Nepal China Relations
Chinese President Xi Jinping is paying an official visit to Nepal today. Nepalese people are eagerly waiting to welcome his Excellency Xi Jinping to Nepal. This is our great pleasure to embrace and welcome the President of China, and the General Secretary of China Communist Party. Nepal and China have good relations since ancient times. The bilateral ties with China have started since Tsrong Tsang Gonpo, Bhrikuti and Amsuverma’s time. It was the Licchavi Period in Nepal. This is an ancient kingdom of Nepal that existed in the Kathmandu Valley in modern-day Nepal from approximately 400 to 750 CE. Bhrikuti, a princess of Nepal was married off to Tsrong Tsanag Gonpo, which was a political type of marriage. It is also said this marriage was done to improve the diplomatic relations. This marriage too has contributed to consolidating the bilateral ties between the two countries.
The relations between the two countries were equally cordial during the Lichhavi and Malla period as well. So we say that Nepal-China relations friendship is as tall as Mt Qomolangma (Mt. Everest). Nepal and China have economic relations too since that time. Nepal brought goods including salt from Tibet. Until some time back woollen rugs used to be brought here from Tibet.
Now the time has changed. China is rapidly growing as a global technology and economic superpower. China is the first country where a surgery was done with the help of 5G and first used a robot as an anchor of a news channel. China has developed strategies for enhancing its soft power. China manages to use Soft Power in various areas such as tourism, education, sports, culture, etc. We should learn from the development taking place in China including technology among other sectors. China wants that its development should not be impeded and that its relations with neighbours are also strengthened and cordial. The mutual relation between Nepal and China is moving ahead with one respecting the other.
BRI and Nepal
Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) which is developed by President Xi Jinping, is one of China’s most ambitious cross-border connectivity projects of the 21st century. It is projected that BRI will connect more than 65 countries in Asia, Europe, and Africa by land and maritime networks. This is a huge roadmap of shared development in terms of trade, commerce, investment and infrastructure development.
Nepal’s northern and southern neighbors are moving ahead in terms of development and that Nepal should take advantage of this. The benefit is not achieved by making speeches or harping on it alone, we should make a programme if we are to take benefit from BRI. We should increase our production, should take their technology and learn from them. Our education and health should progress. The National Planning Commission should make a plan in this regard. The plan should be moved ahead in a way that it makes the people stronger.
BRI is a new concept brought by China being based on the ancient Silk Road. The biggest thing in this project is that it is aimed at developing the economy and cordial relations. It is about improving ties and establishing connectivity with all countries of the world. We also signed an agreement related to it from the start. Now we are working to expand connectivity. Discussions were held on opening three or four border transit points when the Chinese Foreign Minister visited Nepal. Many agreements would be reached in the course of President Xi’s visit. Topics as the construction of tunnel, road improvement and expansion have come up. China has its interest in road linking with China with the Kathmandu Valley and outside districts. This is also our need. There is no need for making comments about this. We should promote our national interest and learn from other countries in terms of social change, education, science, and technology as well as other things. Our government is working steadfastly on this. Our related Ministry is making preparations before the Chinese President arrives. All the related bodies should make preparations as per their capacity. The government bodies are working on this.
We did not pay attention to areas in which China has progressed. We failed to give attention to what have been explored in China. We ourselves are not working in a planned manner even now which areas we need to explore. Presently we are engaged in debate and discussions. Research is not done by the political leaders and bureaucracy but the university professors should conduct research on what benefits we can take from China. We should find out what are the conclusions drawn by the research carried out at national and international level regarding BRI and figure out which one of these are suitable for Nepal and the suitable ones should be implemented.
There is no other country in the world with the geographical situation like that of Nepal. We find all types of climate found in the world in Nepal. We have timber, medicinal herbs, fruits and food crop cultivation, all this here. We did not carry out research in these areas. We can be involved in research in these areas together with China. We can carry out research in agriculture, production and take Chinese support to increase production accordingly by involving them. Another area in which we can seek Chinese support is establishing industries and enterprises based on agriculture resources. We can export the goods produced from these industries to China and other countries. In the energy sector as well, we can produce electricity taking support from China and sell that energy. We send our students to China to study medicine and engineering. But although these subjects are studied they are not research-oriented. We should use the research-oriented studies undertaken in China here in Nepal. We can take help from China in technology and social change as well. China has produced citizens who are loyal to the nation through a certain type of schooling. We can learn from that as well. People’s thinking should be improved to make the nation stronger. We can learn from China in this aspect too.
When I was the Minister for Foreign Affairs, China had participated in the SAARC summit as an observer. China has made the commitment of its resources for strengthening SAARC. China is found positive regarding operating the SAARC University as well. Bilateral talks were held with the Chinese Foreign Minister regarding trade. Discussions were held in the talks on topics such as how to make the trade balanced and how to strengthen the relations between the two countries. But in my term, our all attention was focused on constitution drafting.
We find that wherever the Chinese President has visited, the tourism of that place has developed very well. He went to the Maldives, the Chinese tourists’ attraction to the Maldives has increased. Similarly, this has happened in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh as well. With India also, their relations are becoming stronger. Trade and commerce of both countries have grown. Tourists also go there. Chinese intellectuals also visit India now.
I hope that the resources in the economic and tourism sectors could be identified and utilized after the President’s visit. This visit will contribute to education, health. China is thinking that they would become prosperous with the cooperation of the neighbors if the neighbors can be gradually taken towards prosperity. Nepal will be on the sight of other friendly countries as well after the Chinese President’s visit. This means that other countries’ cordial relations and cooperation would start to grow towards us. We should learn to take support in this aspect. Works should be as per our needs and desire, not theirs’. The rest of the friendly countries too will extend support to Nepal after the Chinese President’s visit.
Nepal’s relations with China would be further cemented following the President’s visit. We should strive to build positive relations for the long term and not just for the short term. If we expand our relations in a positive way in a cordial environment with international organizations, the United Nations, regional cooperation organizations and G-20 and such other bodies, and if we practice our diplomacy in the right way, we will get their support and it will improve our economy. We can easily achieve the goal of graduating the country to the status of developing country in 2022 and of attaining the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
About Writer: Mahendra Bahadur Pandey is the former Minister of Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the leader of Communist Party of Nepal (CPN)