Chinese team gets down to business as it arrivesThe delegation led by Guo Yezhou, a vice-minister of Communist Party of China, holds talks with President and prime minister.
A Chinese delegation that made a hurried dash for Nepal after the Nepal Communist Party split last week wasted no time and got down to business as soon as it arrived in Kathmandu on Sunday afternoon.
The four-member delegation led by Guo Yezhou, vice-minister of the International Department of the Communist Party of China, held talks with President Bidya Devi Bhandari and Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli on Sunday evening.
The Chinese team is in Kathmandu to, it is believed, assess the situation in Nepal that has arisen after Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli dissolved the House of Representatives on December 20.
Bhesh Raj Adhikari, a personal aide to the President, confirmed the meeting between President Bhandari and the visiting Chinese delegation.
The Office of the President, however, refused to divulge details, including who participated from the Nepali side and what transpired during the about an hour-long meeting.
“I cannot share more on the meeting,” Adhikari told the Post.
After meeting with President Bhandari, the Chinese delegation had reached Baluwatar at around 7:30pm, according to a senior police official. Finance Minister and party general secretary Bishnu Poudel was also in the meeting between Oli and the visiting Chinese delegation.
Sources said the delegation held talks with Oli for over two hours.
Foreign Ministry officials, however, failed to shed light on the meetings saying that ministry representatives were not present in either of the meetings.
It was not immediately known what transpired between Oli and the Chinese delegation.
The Post’s repeated attempts to reach Rajan Bhattarai, Oli’s foreign relations adviser, went unanswered.
The visit from the north comes on the heels of a vertical split in the Nepal Communist Party which is believed to have been formed with a lot of efforts by the Chinese in May 2018.
Months before Oli’s CPN-UML and Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s CPN (Maoist Centre) announced the formation of the Nepal Communist Party (NCP), a Chinese delegation led by Gou had visited Kathmandu in February 2018.
Both parties had fought the 2017 elections under a communist alliance and secured a thumping victory.
Over the years, there had been increased engagements between the Nepal Communist Party and the Chinese Communist Party, with many of the Nepali communist leaders flying to China for “training programmes”.
In September last year, the Nepal Communist Party even held a two-day symposium, where Chinese Communist Party leaders were invited, on Xi Jinping Thought.
Chinese Ambassador Hou Yanqi’s engagements with Nepal Communist Party leaders, especially when the party was in crisis due to the infighting, over the years were also widely reported.
On Tuesday evening, hours after the Nepal Communist Party virtually split between Oli and Dahal-Madhav Nepal factions, Hou had called on President Bhandari. She has since met with Dahal, Nepal, Krishna Bahadur Mahara and Barshaman Pun.
According to sources in the Nepal Communist Party, the Chinese have but one stated position—a unified party and stability in Nepal.
Sources say the Chinese were taken by surprise when Oli dissolved the House, thereby effecting a split in the party. Their concerns, however, had started to grow after a flurry of visits from India with which Oli had taken a hostile approach over border issues.
Bilateral dialogue between Kathmandu and Delhi did not take place for almost a year after India in November last year published a new political map placing the Kalapani area, which Nepal claims as its own, within India’s borders. Then in May this year, India opened a road link via Lipulekh, which Nepal too claims as its own, to Kailash Mansarovar in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China.
The Oli government then published Nepal’s new map depicting Kalapani, Lipulekh and Limpiyadhura as parts of the Nepali territory. This move by Oli and some of his statements had led to further souring of relations between Kathmandu and Delhi.
Even though the infighting continued in the Nepal Communist Party, it had not reached the stage of a split.
In May and July this year, Chinese Ambassador Hou had held a series of meetings with the Nepal Communist Party leaders when they were squabbling.
Leaders said the Chinese delegation led by Gou is in Kathmandu to assess the situation and encourage Nepal Communist Party leaders to seek a common ground for party unity.
According to a Standing Committee member who spoke on condition of anonymity, since Guo personally knows all senior Nepal Communist Party leaders, Beijing has carefully chosen and sent him, as it fears the investment it made in bringing the two communist forces together could go down the drain.
The split in the Nepal Communist Party comes on the heels of a series of visits from India, which in October played host to senior US officials aiming at strengthening “strategic ties in the face of growing Chinese influence in the region”.
Analysts told the Post on Saturday that the Chinese have their own security concerns and they believe political turmoil in Nepal may not serve them well, especially amid geopolitical shifts.
A Nepal Communist Party leader who has been in communication with the Chinese said the Guo-led delegation is in Kathmandu to convey the message of the Chinese leadership, including President Xi, to the party leadership.
“Besides this, the Chinese side has not communicated to us any other thing,” the leader told the Post requesting anonymity.
Apart from the goings-on in both the factions of the Nepal Communist Party, the Chinese delegation will also try to assess the overall political situation in Nepal, according to the leader.
“Since the Dahal-Nepal faction and other parties, including the Nepali Congress and Janata Samajbadi Party, are opposing the House dissolution, the Chinese may also want to know what happens if the House is not restored and whether elections will happen,” said the leader.
After dissolving the House, Oli called snap polls for April 30 and May 10.
The legality of the House dissolution is currently being tested by the Supreme Court.
All the members of the Chinese delegation, who emerged from the Kathmandu airport wearing personal protective equipment, had headed straight for the Chinese Embassy at Baluwatar.
Security sources said the delegation did not accept security provided by Nepal Police.
Police had detained a group of demonstrators protesting against the visit from China on Sunday afternoon.
“We arrested 27 people from outside the Chinese Embassy,” said a senior police official.