Prime Minister Dahal China-bound seeking support for 30 projectsThe prime minister left New York after addressing the UN General Assembly.
After completing his engagements in New York, including his address to the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal has left for the Chinese city of Hangzhou via Hong Kong to attend the opening ceremony of the 19th Asian Games. Prime Minister Dahal and members of the Nepali delegation will reach Hangzhou on Saturday morning, according to his itinerary.
Since the prime minister was busy in New York and could not ascertain and finalise the agenda of the visit, the adviser to the National Security Council, Shanker Das Bairagi, who is also a former chief secretary and foreign secretary, and the incumbent chief secretary Baikuntha Aryal left for Hong Kong on Friday afternoon. “They will meet Dahal in Hong Kong and will ascertain the China agenda,” said Govinda Acharya, press adviser to the prime minister.
“The Cabinet has already given a nod to eight potential agreements and memoranda of understanding for the visit and if agreed to by both sides, more agreements and MoUs could be signed,” said Acharya.
Both Kathmandu and Beijing on Thursday announced the visit of Prime Minister Dahal to China where he will attend the opening ceremony of the Asian Games and will be meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Hangzhou. “It is expected that Dahal will meet the Chinese President Xi, twice, on Saturday, once during the luncheon and the next time, for official talks,” said an official at the Prime Minister’s Office.
On Saturday evening, the prime minister will attend the opening ceremony of the Asian Games and will visit the headquarters of the Alibaba Group owned by Chinese billionaire Jack Ma. Ma visited Nepal at the end of June but did not meet Prime Minister Dahal.
“Nepal and China enjoy excellent bilateral relations as good friends, close neighbours and trusted partners,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said while announcing the visit. “The pedestal of this strong relationship is said to have been nurtured by many commonalities in culture, history, and geography. This visit will bolster our age-old bilateral relations and expand the areas of cooperation in various fields of mutual interest,” it added.
In Beijing, Mao Ning, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said on Thursday that Beijing is willing to work with Nepal and takes the visit as an opportunity to deepen strategic mutual trust, expand practical cooperation, jointly build the “Belt and Road” with high quality, and push Nepal-China strategic partnership to a new level.
“Prime Minister Prachanda [Dahal] has visited China many times and
made important contributions to promoting the development of China-Nepal relations,” Mao said at a press conference.
After completing his engagements in Hangzhou, the prime minister will leave for Beijing on September 24 and will address the China-Nepal Investment Summit jointly organised by the China Council for Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) and the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI).
On September 25, Dahal will meet Zhou Li, the chairman of the standing committee of the National Committee of the National People’s Congress, and will hold delegation-level talks with his Chinese counterpart, Li Qiang, followed by the signing of some agreements and MoUs, according to officials preparing the prime minister’s itinerary.
Ahead of the meeting with Premier Li, a welcome ceremony is planned in Tiananmen Square and after the talks, the Chinese premier will host a working luncheon in the honour of the Nepali delegation. The same day, the prime minister will visit the Beijing Research Institute. On September 26, the prime minister will leave for Chongqing to observe the agricultural and industrial advancement of China, according to the foreign ministry. The local leaders of the Chinese Communist Party will host the prime minister on September 26 in Chongqing. On September 27, the Nepali delegation led by Dahal will leave for Lhasa where he will discuss the opening of more trading points between Nepal and China. The Tibetan officials have just opened the Lizi Port in order to hold bilateral trade with Nepal.
“The Chinese side has proposed a visit to Mansarovar on September 28, but it all depends on the weather,” another official in the prime minister’s entourage said.
On September 30, the prime minister will return home via Chengdu.
In Beijing, as widely expected, both sides are likely to reach agreements on some key issues like signing of the implementation plan of the Belt and Road Initiative, agreeing on signing of the Nepal-China energy trade agreement, seeking Chinese grant to develop one or two projects under the BRI, and construction of industrial parks.
“There is no clarity over signing the project under the BRI framework,” said Acharya. “It is yet not clear whether the same old nine projects selected during the premiership of KP Sharma Oli will be pushed or new projects will be proposed,” he added. It is also not sure whether the prime minister will seek a waiver of the Chinese loans taken to build the international airport in Pokhara.
But the prime minister is carrying a long wish-list forwarded by various ministries, which he will propose to execute during his meetings with Chinese President Xi and Premier Li. Among them are construction of dry port infrastructure in Korala of Mustang and Kimathanka of Sankhuwasabha, construction of Nepal-China Friendly Park, opening of new border points between Nepal and China, establishment of Trade Promotion Centre at Chobhar in Kathmandu, signing of the Nepal-China Mutual Recognition Agreement and the building of Anandakuti Bhavan.
As well, the prime minister will seek Chinese assistance for building infrastructure for the Madan Bhandari Science and Technology University, Post Bahadur Bogati Multipurpose Vocational Institute, and Shuklaphanta Multipurpose Vocational Education Institute in Kanchanpur. Also on the agenda is an agreement for the export of Nepali agricultural and livestock products to China (litchi, mango, orange, fish, bullfrog, and buffalo meat, etc).
Likewise, Dahal will also ask the northern neighbour to support the construction of an agricultural and livestock products demonstration industrial park, development of agriculture in north Himalayan region, infrastructure development in the already existing border points on the northern frontier, cooperation between all levels of the federal government units of Nepal and China, provide grant for disaster management and logistics, and start direct flights from different Chinese provinces to Pokhara and Lumbini airports.
Other items on the agenda include seeking Chinese assistance for the construction of a modern hangar at the Tribhuvan International Airport, Nepal-China cross border transmission line (Kimathanka and Rasuwa), about 400 charging stations for electric vehicles. Nepal will also ask China to help develop rural electrification and solar grid infrastructure, Tokha-Chhahare Tunnel, and provide support for Araniko Highway upgrade and construction of the Hilsa-Surkhet-Khulalu-Lisalla-Simikot road.
Construction of the Khutiya-Dipayal-Chainpur-Urai Road and an international standard national multi-functional lab, grant for Vibrant Village Programme Infrastructure, support for relocation of Bir Hospital, assistance for Karnali Health Science Academy, development of new infrastructure for the Kathmandu-based Civil Hospital, grant for Vibrant Village Programme and Kathmandu Valley monopole (tower for multiple antennas) infrastructure too are listed on the official agenda after trimming them down from hundred plus proposals received from various ministries, according to the minister.