Land-locked Nepal is keen to enhance cross-border rail-road connectivity, infrastructure development, trade and tourism cooperation with China under its ambitious Belt and Road Initiative, Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli has said. Ahead of his first official visit to Beijing since his re-election, Prime Minister Oli said that his government is fully committed to implementing the Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation under the framework of the BRI signed with China two years ago.
Chinese President Xi Jinping had unveiled the BRI in 2013 with an aim to link Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Gulf region, Africa and Europe with a network of land and sea routes. India has not endorsed the BRI, a pet project of Xi, as the USD 50 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which is part of the BRI, passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).
India says it cannot accept a project that ignores its core concern on sovereignty and territorial integrity. Nepal attaches great value to its relationship with China which has always respected its sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence, Prime Minister Oli told China’s state-run Xinhua news agency.
China has signed pacts with nearly 80 countries and international organisations for the BRI. In Beijing, Oli will hold talks with his Chinese counterpart Li Keqiang, and is expected to sign major infrastructure projects to further deepen bilateral ties.
Nepal wants to discuss with China cooperation modality in implementing projects under the BRI framework during his visit to China, the prime minister said. “Our two countries have common views on the concept of Trans-Himalayan Multi-Dimensional Transport Network. Based on this broad framework, we want to seek cooperation with China on the cross-border connectivity of railway, road, transmission lines and other related areas for mutual benefit,” Oli said.
Nepal views the BRI as an important development initiative, he said.
“China is our immediate neighbour. Our two countries share a long history of friendly relations which are multifaceted and deep-rooted.
“Our relations are based on the solid foundation of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence,” he said, reiterating Nepal’s long-standing one-China policy. He vowed not to allow the use of Nepali territory in the engagement of any activities against China, in an apparent reference to Tibetan refugees in Nepal whom China considers as dangerous separatists intended to destabilising the Tibet Autonomous Region.
“China has always respected Nepal’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence. It has been providing valuable assistance for Nepal’s development efforts.
“Harmonious co-existence founded on the principle of good neighbourliness characterises our relationship. It has always been our sincere desire to maintain friendly relations with our neighbours,” the prime minister said.
Oli said that he is looking forward to having substantive discussions with the Chinese leaders on ways and means to further widen and deepen bilateral relations and areas of cooperation. He believed that China can help a lot in his country’s socio-economic transformation as Nepal is marching ahead to achieve economic prosperity at present.