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Nepal and China agree to enhance cooperation on multiple fronts under the BRI framework

The Six-point Agreement Emphasised Cooperation On Governance, Legislative And Supervisory Practices.

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 Photo courtesy: Speaker’s Secretariat

Nepal and China on Monday agreed to increase their engagements and exchanges on governance, legislative and supervisory practices under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiatives (BRI).

The understanding was reached between Speaker Agni Prasad Sapkota and visiting head of the Standing Committee of the Chinese National People’s Congress Li Zhanshu after delegation-level talks in the parliament building on Monday evening. Earlier, Li had arrived in Kathmandu on a four-day official visit at the invitation of Sapkota. As soon as he landed in Kathmandu leading a 67-member delegation, Sapkota and Li held delegation-level talks followed by the signing of a six-point agreement.

The two sides, reads the statement, will give importance to exchange of information related to each other's legislative, supervisory and governance practices. The two sides will work to reap common benefit by increasing mutual affiliation between the two countries, including through the BRI. Nepal and China signed up the BRI in 2017 May.

There has been no substantive progress under the initiative thus far even though the two sides have agreed to develop and build Nepal-China cross border railway under the BRI framework.

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, during the meeting, the two sides agreed to further strengthen inter-parliamentary exchanges and cooperation. Li had extended best wishes for the success of upcoming elections to the Federal Parliament and provincial assemblies in Nepal.

“They also underscored the role of the Parliamentary Friendship Group in each other’s parliament in further promoting goodwill and understanding between the two legislatures,” said the statement. At the meeting, Li promised to help the Nepali parliament at the institutional level, as per its needs.

The two dignitaries also exchanged views on the importance of implementing connectivity infrastructure, including under the BRI, said the ministry.

During the talks, Sapkota and Li, while expressing happiness over the excellent state of bilateral relations and cooperation subsisting between Nepal and China, also discussed multiple matters of mutual interests.

Sapkota reiterated Nepal’s commitment to One-China policy and to barring any anti-China activities on Nepali soil. Li for his part expressed China’s continued support for Nepal's sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity, said the foreign ministry.

As per the next point of agreement, the two sides have agreed to strengthen and develop mutual trust, respect each other's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, respect each other's freely chosen social system and development path, and support each other's core interests and important concerns.

“Both sides will try to strengthen inter-parliamentary exchanges and cooperation at all levels through multilateral means to deepen bilateral relations between the two nations and peoples and contribute for the bilateral cooperation,” the next point of agreement reads.

Both sides will give priority to high-level visits and exchange of contacts between the Legislature of Nepal and the People's Republic of China, reads the agreement, and “both sides will encourage and support parliamentary friendly groups to enhance their involvement and play an active role in promoting harmony and understanding between the two legislatures.”

The last point of the agreement speaks of strengthening cooperation under the framework of international and regional parliamentary organizations including the Inter-Parliamentary Union on matters of common interest.

The two sides reiterated the agreement signed during the 2019 Nepal visit of President Xi Jinping, when bilateral relations were elevated from ‘comprehensive’ to ‘strategic’ partnership. While signing the new agreement on Monday, the two sides also reaffirmed their commitment to the BRI, with each side coming to the belief that close inter-parliamentary exchanges are vital to taking the initiative forward.

Besides signing the agreement, Sapkota and Li also discussed various issues of mutual interest, according to the officials.

Speaker Sapkota appreciated the people and government of China for their support and cooperation in Nepal’s development endeavor and expressed hope for an enhanced level of support from China for Nepal’s post-pandemic recovery and other development priorities. He added that the people and government of Nepal are grateful to the Chinese Government for providing Nepal with a substantial amount of medical supplies, equipment and Covid vaccines.

Besides ensuring Nepal’s firm commitment to One-China policy, Sapkota requested Li to facilitate the upgrade of Araniko Highway that connects Nepal and China and sought China’s support for reopening the two main trading border points at the earliest, according to one Nepali participant of the meeting.

The Chinese side assured that it will clear all containers destined for Nepal at the earliest, said the foreign ministry in its statement.

China has for long been helping Nepal in different areas and now that it has become more economically powerful, the country expects much more from China, Sapkota said.

In response, Li expressed China’s commitment to taking forward the feasibility study of Kerung-Kathmandu rail and to resume the trading points before the Nepali festival season.

Li, head of the Standing Committee of the Chinese National People’s Congress, arrived in Kathmandu on Monday afternoon on a four-day visit at the invitation of Speaker Sapkota.

The 67-member delegation under Li arrived in Kathmandu this afternoon by a special flight, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs informed after his arrival.

Accompanying Li are officials from the People’s Congress, the Communist Party of China, and the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

Li, en route to South Korea, came to Nepal after completing visits to Russia and Mongolia.

Li’s visit comes ahead of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China which is set to give another term extension to incumbent President Xi Jinping, and Nepal’s federal and provincial elections scheduled for November 20.

Sapkota was accompanied by chief whips and whips of political parties represented in parliament and members of the Nepal-China Parliamentary Forum, according to the parliament secretariat.

Later in the evening, the Chinese delegation participated in a dinner hosted by the Speaker in honour of the visiting Chinese delegation. In the dinner were Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and top leaders of the major parties.

On Tuesday, the second day of his visit, Li will call on the Chairman of the National Assembly Ganesh Timilsina at the parliament building following meetings with CPN-UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli and Pushpa Kamal Dahal, chairman of the CPN (Maoist Centre).

Later on Tuesday, Foreign Minister Narayan Khadka will call on Li at Hotel Soaltee. He will then meet Prime Minister Deuba again and discuss the strengthening of bilateral ties between Nepal and China.

On Wednesday, the Chinese delegation will see President Bidya Devi Bhandari and visit Bhaktapur Durbar Square. The delegation will leave for South Korea after rounding up the Nepal trip on Thursday.

Li’s is the third high-level visit from China after the formation of the Deuba government in July last year.