Nepal Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli will pay a five-day visit to China next week, his first after re-election, during which a host of projects under the Belt and Road Initiative as well as Beijing’s plans for an India-Nepal-China economic corridor are expected to be discussed. Oli will be in China from June 19-24, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a media briefing here. China and Nepal are comprehensive cooperative partners, enjoying generation-to-generation friendship and development of bilateral ties has been taking place with sound momentum, he said. Oli will hold talks with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang during his visit, Geng said.
China looks forward to deepening practical cooperation with Nepal under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and deepening political and economic cooperation as well as in infrastructure, post-disaster rebuilding, and in cultural fields and to further elevate bilateral ties, he said. Oli, during his earlier brief tenure as premier in 2016, had widened China-Nepal ties by signing the transit trade treaty with China to reduce the dependence of his landlocked country on India at the height of the Madhesi agitation and had sought expansion of road links through Tibet besides extension of China’s railway network to Nepal through the Himalayas. However, since his re-election, he made his first foreign visit to India promising to follow a more balanced policy between India and China.
His visit was also followed by a high-profile visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Nepal highlighting steady development in relations between the two countries. Ahead of his visit, China has aired concerns over reports of cancellation of Chinese companies’ agreement to build the West Seti hydropower project in Nepal. On June 6, another Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said Chinese companies participating in the hydropower project are in talks with the Nepalese government, refuting reports that the agreement has been cancelled. China is also expecting its company Gezhouba Group Corporation (CGGC) to get back the contract to build the 1,200 MW Budhigandaki hydropower oroject, which was cancelled by the previous Nepalese government.
China has been investing heavily in Nepal in the last few years to enhance connectivity and infrastructure. More importantly, China has suggested to the Nepal government to build an India-Nepal-China economic corridor through the Himalayas. “Let me say China and Nepal have agreed on a long term vision of a multi-dimensional cross-Himalaya connectivity network,” Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi had said after talks with his Nepalese counterpart Pradeep Kumar Gyawali here on April 18. Wang said China and Nepal have already signed an MoU on the BRI in which connectivity cooperation has been included.
It includes a long-term vision such as connectivity network and covering links between the two countries through ports, railways, highways, aviation, power and communications. “We believe that such a well-developed connectivity network can also create conditions for an economic corridor connecting China, Nepal and India,” Wang had said. “We hope that such cooperation will contribute to development and prosperity for all three countries,” he had said.