Foreign Ministry announces Chinese Defence Minister Wei Fenghe’s visit to NepalDuring his one-day visit, the Chinese official will participate in a whirlwind round of meetings, including with the prime minister, the Army chief and the President.
Chinese State Councillor and Defence Minister Wei Fenghe is arriving in Kathmandu on Sunday on a one-day visit to Nepal, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on Saturday.
Wei’s visit will mark the highest level visit from the north since Chinese President Xi Jinping came to Nepal in September last year on a two-day visit.
During his daylong stay in Kathmandu, Wei will call on Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, who is also the defence minister.
Before wrapping up his visit, Wei will also pay a courtesy call on President Bidya Devi Bhandari and will meet Chief of the Nepal Army, General Purna Chandra Thapa, according to the ministry.
The high-level visit from the northern neighbour is taking place days after Indian Foreign Secretary Harsha Vardhan Shringla concluded his two-day visit to Nepal.
Shringla returned on Friday afternoon.
Kathmandu of late is seeing a flurry of visits from both neighbours.
Before Shringla’s visit, the chief of Indian Army and India foreign spy agency had arrived in Kathmandu.
The visit from the north is taking place at a time when the ruling Nepal Communist Party is mired in an internal conflict and Beijing has not concealed its concern over the goings-on in the party.
Brigadier General Santosh Ballav Paudyal, spokesperson for the Nepal Army, said that Chinese Defense Minister Wei will spend around two hours at Nepal Army headquarters where he will receive a guard of honour which will be followed by his meeting with the Chief of Army Staff General Purna Chandra Thapa. “The meeting will focus on bilateral cooperation,” Paudyal told the Post.
“Basically in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, bilateral military cooperation has been suspended, including the military exercise, imparting training to Nepal Army officials and bilateral exchanges.”
During the visit of Deputy Prime Minister and then Defence Minister Ishwor Pokharel to China last year, Nepal and China had signed a deal for a 150-million RMB Chinese military assistance and a protocol for the same is expected to be signed during Wei’s visit.
“Discussion on the resumption of Chinese military aid will figure during the meeting,” said Paudyal.
Chinese Ambassador Hou Yanqi recently held meetings with ruling party chairs Oli and Pushpa Kamal Dahal. Back in July too, when the ruling Nepal Communist Party was in crisis, staring at an imminent split, the Chinese ambassador had held a meeting with senior leaders of the party.
Neither the Nepali side nor the Chinese side has made public the agenda for Wei’s visit.
Wei’s is a return visit from China after Pokharel’s visit last year when he was also holding the defence ministry portfolio, according to an official at the Defence Ministry.
The last time a Chinese defence minister made a trip to Nepal was on May 23, 2017 when Chang Wanquan arrived in Nepal with a 19-member delegation on a three-day visit. Chang was the first Chinese defence minister to visit Nepal in 16 years. Chang’s visit in 2017 came months ahead of a joint military exercise between the Nepal Army and China’s People’s Liberation Army.