Nepal, China to resume joint military drillsWith Vice President Yadav, foreign minister Wang renews commitment to BRI projects.
Nepal and China are set to resume bilateral military and defence engagements that were stalled due to the Covid pandemic. This includes suspended ministry exercise between Nepali and Chinese People’s Liberation Army, other military training like the national defence course in China and other engagements.
This was agreed between the two armies during the ongoing visit to Nepal by Yue Ande, the major general of the Tibet Military Command of the Chinese People's Liberation Army, in Kathmandu. Yue arrived in Kathmandu on Wednesday on a five-day official visit and held talks with Chief of the Army Staff General Prabhu Ram Sharma the same day.
“The visit by the major general of the Tibet Military Command of Chinese People’s Liberation Army itself shows that traditional military-to-military engagements between Nepal Army and Chinese army have resumed,” said Brig Gen Krishna Prasad Bhandari, the Nepal Army spokesman.
During the meeting between Yue and Sharma, issues of mutual concern were discussed, according to the Nepal Army.
Maj Gen Yue is leading an eight-member border defence delegation to Kathmandu. The delegation has visited the Army Command and Staff College, among other military installations.
“I don’t know if there is a hidden agenda behind the visit, but it has resumed the traditional engagements and cooperation between the two armies. Nepal Army is soon sending some of its officials to China to pursue the National Defense Course (NDC), and both sides are also considering resuming the joint military exercise under the banner of ‘Sagarmatha Friendship’ which has been stalled since 2019,” said spokesman Bhandari.
Bhandari did not mention the date for the joint military exercise, but said that all kinds of traditional military-to-military engagements and cooperation with China will gradually resume.
But the date for the joint military drill, which is to be conducted in Nepal, has yet to be fixed. The two countries have been conducting joint military exercises since 2017 at the platoon level. This is a small-scale exercise compared to the ones Nepal conducts with India and the United States.
The platoon-level training is led by captains of the two armies. The Nepal Army says the drill is part of its regular bilateral and multilateral military exercises aimed at sharing experiences, skills and professional knowledge, a practice common with nations that have diplomatic ties with Nepal.
The joint exercise, according to the army, is aimed at fighting terrorism, disaster response and management, and high-altitude warfare, among others. In 2019, Nepal and China had decided to conduct the joint military exercise in Nuwakot district, but it was cancelled at the last hour.
The drill, which was initially touted as a joint military exercise, was then ‘downgraded’ to a ‘training to enhance the capacity of the personnel from the two countries’.
Nepal has been conducting battalion-level exercises titled ‘Surya Kiran’ with the Indian Army for the past 18 years, engaging some 300 soldiers from both sides.
Wang meets Nepal’s Vice President in Kunming
Meanwhile, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi, who is also the director of the Foreign Affairs Office of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, called on Vice President Ramsahaya Prasad Yadav in Kunming on the sidelines of the China-South Asia Expo. At the meeting, Yadav told Wang that Nepal and China are close partners who cooperate and support each other in various fields, including strategic cooperation and building mutual trust, according to a Chinese foreign ministry statement.
“Nepal will always remember the support, help and profound friendship of the Chinese government and people to Nepal, and has full confidence that the future of Nepal-China relations will be strengthened,” the Chinese foreign ministry said quoting Yadav. “The Nepali side always regards relations with China as a priority in its foreign policy, will continue to adhere to the one-China policy, stick to its political commitments, and will never allow any force to use Nepali territory to engage in anti-China activities”.
“We look forward to jointly implementing the important achievements of the historic exchange of visits between the leaders of Nepal and China in 2019, building the trans-Himalayan multi-dimensional connectivity network , enhancing the diversity of Nepal-China economic and trade cooperation, and accelerating post-epidemic recovery,” said Yadav.
Yadav requested China to facilitate the export of Nepali agricultural products, the statement said.
On the other hand, Wang appreciated Yadav's reaffirmation of the one-China principle and his commitment that Nepal's territory will not be used by any anti-China forces.
Wang said Nepal's ruling and opposition parties have always adhered to the friendship with China and respected China’s core interests.
“China and Nepal are friendly neighbours linked by mountains and rivers. Always respect and support each other, unite and cooperate for mutual benefit and win-win cooperation,” Wang told Yadav, according to the Chinese foreign ministry. “China cherishes the traditional friendship between China and Nepal, and will continue to firmly support Nepal in safeguarding its sovereignty, security and development interests, and take a development path that suits its own national conditions.”
“We are willing to work with the Nepali side to promote development and prosperity-oriented strategic partnership of friendship,” Wang said. “The two sides should continue to promote the construction of the trans-Himalayan multi-dimensional connectivity network and jointly build high-quality projects under the Belt and Road Initiative, speed up the feasibility study of cross-border railways, and help the development and revitalization of Nepal.”
Nepal is the country of honour in the South China Expo. Vice President Yadav, Education Minister Ashok Rai, some senior government officials and around 100 Nepali business delegates are taking part in the expo.