Chinese Foreign Minister to arrive on Sunday for a three-day visitWang Yi will not be signing any pacts or agreements but will instead lay the groundwork for Xi Jingping’s stopover in October, sources say.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi will be arriving on Sunday for a three-day official visit that many believe will set the stage for Chinese President Xi Jinping’s arrival, possibly in mid-October.
Though the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu remain tight-lipped on the visit, three different sources confirmed to the Post that Wang will be in Kathmandu for three days and will return to Beijing on Tuesday after gauging the possibility of the Chinese president’s stopover.
The Chinese side has already indicated the probability of Xi’s stop-off in Kathmandu for a few hours on his way back to Beijing after holding informal talks with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a senior security official told the Post. In preparation, renovations are underway at the Soaltee Crowne Plaza to host Xi and his retinue.
Successive Nepali governments and heads of state have time after time invited Xi to visit Nepal, but political instability and his tight schedule have long stymied any plans.
During his time in Kathmandu, Wang will prepare a blueprint for what could be achieved during Xi’s few hours, a Nepali diplomat told the Post on condition of anonymity. But no pact and agreement will be signed during the Foreign Minister’s visit, said the diplomat.
At least three Chinese advance teams have already arrived in Kathmandu to assess security, road conditions, the airport and other logistics in preparation for Xi’s visit. The teams have indicated that Xi may visit for a couple of hours, or at the most, will land in the morning and return the same evening after holding political meetings and signing agreements.
Wang, who is coming from Pakistan, will pay a courtesy call on President Bidya Devi Bhandari and Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, and will hold talks with his counterpart, Pradeep Gyawali. He will also meet separately with a few political leaders, according to officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
During the meeting between Gyawali and Wang, both sides will review the status of bilateral projects including those selected under the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative and will discuss other areas of cooperation that can be agreed to during Xi’s visit.
A senior official at the Prime Minister’s Office, who also requested anonymity because he was not allowed to speak to the media, told the Post that the Chinese are dissatisfied with Nepal’s inability to effectively take up projects under the Belt and Road Initiative, which Nepal signed up to more than two years ago. Nepal has decreased the number of projects under the BRI from 35 to nine, but not a single project has been taken up yet.
“We have to figure out our priorities,” said Dinesh Bhattarai, a foreign relations adviser to two Nepali Congress prime ministers. “I do not believe we have done enough homework when it comes to our engagements with China. If we fail to produce results, such high-level visits will turn into a formality. We should have the big picture in mind, with long-term vision so that we can build a narrative that can impress the Chinese.”
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