Nepal Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli has arrived at Beijing on a five-day visit during which a host of key projects under China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative, including a rail link connecting Tibet with Nepal, are expected to be finalised.
During his stay at Beijing, Oli is scheduled to hold talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang and several other top Chinese officials.
Speaking at reception organised by the Nepal Embassy after his arrival, Oli was quoted as saying by the Nepalese media that in addition to railways, Nepal and China are also committed to developing multidimensional connectivity networks of roadways, airways, communications and energy. Oli’s visit comes after his trip to India soon after his election as Prime Minister and followed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s return visit to Kathmandu.
Oli’s visit assumes significance as he is expected to attract Chinese investments in a host of infrastructure projects for his country, including a railway line connecting Tibet with Nepal. Oli, during his brief tenure in 2016 widened China-Nepal ties by signing the transit trade treaty with China to reduce the dependence of his land-locked country on India at the height of Madhesis agitation and sought expansion of road links through Tibet besides extension of China’s railway to Nepal through the Himalayas.
Ahead the visit, China had aired concerns over the reports of cancellation of Chinese companies to build West Seti Hydropower Project. There are some twists and turns on economic cooperation facing China and Nepal and Oli may discuss these issues, Zhao Gancheng, director of the Shanghai Institute for International Studies’ Center for Asia-Pacific Studies, told the Global Times ahead of Oli’s visit.
Nepal cleared China’s state-owned Three Gorges International Corp to build a long-delayed hydropower project on the West Seti River in 2015. It is scheduled for completion by 2022. However, Kathmandu announced in May that Nepal would build the 750-megawatt hydroelectric plant, effectively scrapping the USD 1.6 billion deal with China, the report said.
China is also expecting its company Gezhouba Group Corporation (CGGC) to get back the contract to build 1200 MW Budhigandaki Hydropower Project, which was cancelled by the previous Nepalese government. China has been investing heavily in Nepal in the last few years to enhance the connectivity and infrastructure. More importantly, it has mooted to the Oli government to build India-Nepal-China economic corridor through the Himalayas. The two projects among others are expected to figure in the Oli’s talks with Xi.
China has undertaken 15 projects in Nepal, including four hydropower plants, and the country’s second international airport at Pokhara, with 14 others in the pipeline, Hong-Kong based South China Morning Post reported recently.
“Prime Minister Oli will take up construction of 400-kilovolt cross-border transmission line – 800km of its route will lie in China and 80km in Nepal, right up to capital Kathmandu – via the Nepal-China border,” the report quoted Energy Minister Barshaman Pun as saying.