High-level Chinese team takes stock of Kathmandu’s preparations for Xi’s visitThe way preparations are going, the Chinese president is likely to spend a night in Kathmandu, officials say.
A Chinese high-level team led by Hong Lei, director general at the Department of Protocol under China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has departed Kathmandu after conducting reconnaissance for the planned visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping in mid-October.
Hong’s 18-member Chinese delegation, which arrived on Tuesday and left on Wednesday, stayed at the Soaltee Hotel where Xi will likely be staying during his Nepal visit. The delegation inspected the hotel’s suites and placed necessary directives with the hotel staff, according to two senior government officials.
Senior officials from the President’s Office of China, the Chinese Foreign Ministry, and Public Security Ministry were part of the advance team, which flew in directly from Beijing.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, the Chinese team held meetings with officials at the President’s Office, where President Bidya Devi Bhandari will welcome Xi. The Chinese team travelled along the routes to Sheetal Niwas and potential meeting venues. They also held separate meetings with senior security officials from the Nepal Army, Nepal Police, Armed Police Force and National Intelligence Department, and officials from the Foreign Ministry, officials said.
The Chinese team took stock of how Xi’s motorcade will proceed from the airport to the hotel, and then on to the President’s Office, a courtesy call by Prime Minister Oli and a banquet to be hosted by Oli. It also advised Nepali officials on weaknesses in preparations and how they could be improved.
“The way preparations are going, it looks like the Chinese President may stay for a night in Kathmandu,” officials involved in preparations told the Post, but did not rule out the possibility of a short 10-hour stopover, which was assumed to be the plan earlier.
Hong will brief senior officials in Beijing about Kathmandu’s preparations, and depending on his recommendations, Xi’s stopover will either be confirmed or denied. The decision will then be communicated to the Nepali side in order to expedite preparations, multiple sources from various government agencies told the Post.
“The recommendation of Hong-led team will ascertain the possibility of Xi’s visit to Nepal,” said a top security official who was involved in discussions with Hong. “He is returning to Beijing on a positive note.”
Though numerous Chinese advance teams have visited Nepal in the past few months, the Hong-led delegation this week has confirmed that the Chinese are seriously considering a stopover for the Chinese president in Nepal after 23 years.
Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli is directly overseeing preparations for the visit, as well as taking note of updates on security, logistics, the agenda and others, according to top government officials.
Last week, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi had visited Kathmandu and discussed the prospect of a high-level visit from China in the second week of October. Immediately after Wang returned to Beijing, the Chinese Vice Minister for Commerce had also visited Kathmandu and held talks with Finance Minister Yubaraj Khatiwada, Industry Minister Matrika Yadav and other senior officials, discussing possible cooperation between Nepal and China during Xi’s possible visit.
On Saturday, September 21, Song Tao, head of the Communist Party of China’s International Department, will also be arriving in Kathmandu on a two-day visit. Song will hold talks with President Bhandari, Prime Minister Oli, Co-chair of the Nepal Communist Party Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba, among others, to gauge how the Nepali political spectrum perceives Xi’s visit.
“They [Chinese] want to understand the visit of Chinese President Xi from various angles so a CPC delegation is arriving,” said ruling party spokesperson Narayan Kaji Shrestha. “They want to understand how Nepali political leaders and parties perceive the visit as well as what the expectations are.”
Though an official announcement has not been made yet, Nepali leaders and officials said that Xi is likely to visit Nepal for two days after an informal summit with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in mid-October.
Smaller teams are likely to arrive as Xi’s visit nears but another high-level team will arrive in Kathmandu three days ahead of Xi’s arrival and will oversee all preparations, according to government officials.
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