Nepal-China foreign secretary-level talks to be held in Beijing next weekMeeting comes ahead of the sixth anniversary of Nepal’s signing up to the BRI.
Nepal and China are set to hold the 15th round of Diplomatic Consultation Mechanism talks in Beijing next week. For this, foreign secretary Bharat Raj Paudyal will travel to Beijing. At the talks scheduled for April 7, officials will discuss further promotion of bilateral relations and cooperation including high-level visits.
Sun Weidong who has served as vice-minister of Foreign Affairs since 15 November 2022 will be leading the delegation from the Chinese side.
“We have just received confirmation of the meeting,” Nepali Ambassador to China, Bishnu Pukar Shrestha said, adding, “This is the mechanism where we discuss the entire status of our bilateral relations.
The 14th meeting held last year saw foreign secretary Paudyal leading the Nepali side and Chinese Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs Wu Jianghao representing the Chinese side. The meeting was held in virtual mode.
The 15th meeting is taking place just ahead of the sixth anniversary of Nepal signing up to the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the flagship project launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping. Nepal and China signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on BRI framework agreement in May 2017. Despite the agreement being six years old, no project under the BRI has started in Nepal.
A provision in the framework says the MoU will remain valid for three years and it will be automatically renewed for another three years, and thereafter unless and until terminated by either side by giving written notice at least three months in advance to the other side prior to the expiration of the present MoU. China is also planning to host the third BRI Conference in Beijing this year.
In connection with the meeting, Chinese Ambassador to Nepal Chen Song met with foreign secretary Paudyal on Friday morning and discussed the upcoming meeting, according to sources.
They also discussed the scheduled resumption from Saturday of bilateral trade and movement of people from Rasuwagadi/Kerung exit point. Madhu Marasini, secretary at Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies and a team of Nepali government officials are traveling via land from Lhasa to Rasuwagadhi/Kerung after completing a meeting of Nepal-China Coordination Mechanism on Border Trade and Cooperation held in Lhasa on Wednesday.
The mechanism, which is a higher level one between Nepal and China, discusses promoting cooperation in various sectors including trade, transit, connectivity, investment, health, tourism, poverty alleviation, disaster management, education, culture, and people-to-people exchanges, among others.
The meeting will also discuss upcoming high-level visits from both sides, said officials, adding that Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal could visit China after returning from his India visit. The date of the prime minister’s India visit is yet to be announced.
Although Prime Minister Dahal was invited to the Boao Forum for Asia, he skipped owing to his busy schedule including the protracted Cabinet reshuffle process. Nepali Ambassador to China, Shrestha represented Nepal at the forum.
During last year’s meeting, the two sides underscored the importance of exchange of high-level visits and stressed the need for timely implementation of the agreements and understandings reached between the two countries.
We will review the entire status of bilateral relations, discuss speedy implementation of the China-funded projects in Nepal, and explore new avenues for bilateral cooperation, an official said.
On Thursday, senior officials from Nepal and China agreed to fully reopen the Kerung border point for two-way trade and movement of people starting April 1. The decision was made on Wednesday during the first meeting of the Nepal-China Coordination Mechanism on Border Trade and Cooperation held in Lhasa.
The meeting was co-chaired by Marasini, secretary at the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies and Chen Yongqi, executive vice-chair of the People’s Government of the Tibet Autonomous Region of China. “During the meeting, the two sides agreed to have full operation of Rasuwagadhi/Kerung exit and entry point for two-way trade and people-to-people movement from April 1. Similarly, two-way trade via Tatopani/Zhangmu and human movement/passenger clearance from Yari/Pulang will resume from May 1, 2023,” said a statement issued by the Consulate General of Nepal, Lhasa. Upon Nepal’s request, the Chinese side has agreed to consider setting up a multi-functional lab on the Nepal-China border, the statement added.
Similarly, the Chinese side has also started a feasibility study for Kerung-Kathmandu railway from December-end.
A 40-member Chinese technical team is conducting the feasibility study of the proposed railway, Aman Chitrakar, senior divisional engineer at Department of Railways said, some of our engineers are also supporting the Chinese technical team in the field.