By Nandalal Tiwari
Beijing, Sept. 8:
With a view to creating conditions for constructing a China-Nepal-India economic corridor, China has expressed readiness to speed up the process to build a cross-border railway between Nepal and China by carrying out project survey, design and feasibility study at the earliest under the Belt and Road framework.
This new understanding was reached during the meeting of Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Krishna Bahadaur Mahara with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, State Councillor Yang Jiechi and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Thursday.
DPM Mahara is on a 6-day official visit to China at the invitation of his Chinese counterpart Wang. DPM Mahara arrived Beijing on Wednesday.
This is perhaps the first time that China has put forward a proposal about a China-Nepal-India economic corridor.
During his meetings with the Chinese officials, Mahara highlighted that top leaders of all political parties in Nepal were one with regard to further strengthening relations with China and that the cross border railway would be treated as a national priority project.
At a joint press conference held following the delegation-level bilateral meeting between DPM and FM Mahara and his Chinese counterpart Wang at the Chinese Foreign Ministry, both Mahara and Wang told journalists that both the countries had agreed to expedite cross border railway construction to translate the ‘strategic vision of the leaders of the countries’ into action.
The issue of cross-border railway construction also featured prominently during DPM Mahara’s courtesy call on Chinese Premier Li and his meeting with State Councillor Yang.
“The construction of the cross-border railway between China and Nepal is strategic cooperation put forward by the leaders of the two countries. We have agreed to actively carry out project survey, design, feasibility study, personnel training and other cooperation and make this idea into a reality as soon as possible for the benefit of the two countries and the peoples,” Chinese FM Wang said placing cross border railway construction first among the four major areas of cooperation under the BRI Framework.
In his turn, DPM Mahara said, “We have agreed to carrying out the feasibility study and other related processes early to construct the Kerung-Kathmandu-Pokhara-Lumbini railway.”
The other three major areas of cooperation under the BRI framework the Chinese FM mentioned are repair and resumption of cross border highways such as the Araniko Highway and Rasuwagadhi-Kathmandu Highway, deepening trade and investment between the two countries and post-disaster reconstruction in Nepal.
The Nepal-China border point at Rasuwagadhi /Kerung was recently declared an international border point, and during Chinese Vice-Premier Wang Yang’s visit to Nepal this August, an agreement was signed to upgrade the Rasuwagadhi-Kathmandu Highway with Chinese grant assistance.
“We reached an important consensus on further deepening China-Nepal relations. We all agreed that the development of Sino-Nepal relations is conducive to the fundamental interests of the two countries and its peoples. The two sides will continue to look at and develop Sino-Nepal relations from a strategic perspective and strive to elevate the long friendly and all-round cooperative partnership between China and Nepal to a new height,” Wang said.
“The two sides have agreed to complete the joint feasibility study of the China-Nepal Free Trade Agreement by the end of the year, to complete the 17 post-disaster reconstruction projects as well on schedule.”
Two MoUs, one on energy cooperation and the other on conducting successfully the Nepal Tourism Promotion Year 2017 in China, were signed between the two countries today.
Wang said that treating each other equally, mutual support and seeking common development were the basic three features of China-Nepal relations.
“China has never bullied or oppressed Nepal, never intervened in Nepal’s domestic affairs, never attached political conditions in mutual economic cooperation, and never asked Nepal to choose a side in its foreign policy.”
China will continue to firmly support Nepal’s efforts to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity and Nepal’s continuous exploration of the development path that suits its own national conditions. China appreciates Nepal’s one China policy, Wang said at the press conference.
“I and Minister (DPM) Mahara agree that OBOR initiative is a great opportunity for China and Nepal to strengthen the mutually beneficial cooperation. The two sides should continue to deepen cooperation in various fields under the framework of OBOR.”
Asked about Nepal, China and India relations, Chinese FM Wang said, “Nepal is located between China and India, and can become a bridge and link between the two emerging economies. China and India, as Nepal’s common neighbours, should have the minds and responsibilities of the great powers, respect Nepal’s legitimate rights and interests, support Nepal’s independence and help Nepal to develop and progress.”
“China believes that Nepal can also develop the relationship with the two neighboring countries in parallel. China looks forward to gradually creating the conditions to explore and construct the China-
India- Nepal economic corridor, and jointly promote the Himalayan region to a new ground for Asian development,” said Wang after holding a 90-minute-long bilateral talks with Mahara.
The Nepali Embassy in Beijing hosted a reception in honour of visiting DPM and FM Mahara.
DPM Mahara is scheduled to address a talk programme entitled ‘Nepal-China Partnership for Trans-Himalayan Development’ to be held at the China Foreign Affairs University in Beijing on Friday, and he will also inaugurate Nepali Consulate at Guangzhou, Guangdong Province of China before wrapping his official visit.