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Dahal China Visit: High Expectations

Nepal Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal will leave New York for Hangzhou, China. “After attending the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly, I will leave for China’s Hangzhou from New York,” said Dahal while addressing Parliament to inform about his upcoming visits to the United Nations General Assembly and China. “Nepal and China have shared long, cordial, and closed relations for centuries, and in recent years, these relations have become multidimensional and also deepened. China has become Nepal’s development partner and is helping Nepal in its overall developmental endeavors,” he added.

“This visit will further strengthen bilateral relations,” said Dahal. “Both sides are planning to sign a slew of agreements during the visit, and both sides have completed their homework.”

Dahal will also address the China-Nepal Investment Summit jointly organized by CCPIT, FNCCI, and the Nepali Embassy in Beijing. As per the statement, Prime Minister Dahal will also attend the opening ceremony of the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou on September 23. “The Prime Minister is scheduled to visit Chongqing Municipality to observe the agricultural and industrial advancement of China. He will also visit Lhasa, Tibet Autonomous Region of China that borders with Nepal,” reads the statement. The Prime Minister will arrive in Kathmandu on September 30 2023.

As prime minister, this would be Dahal’s third visit to China. Earlier, he had gone in 2008 and 2017.

Agreements will be signed for the construction of the Tokha-Chhahare tunnel project, two agro-industrial parks, including one in Gorkha, the use of Chinese technology in the education sector, construction of the Rasuwa-Kerung cross-border transmission line besides some other memoranda of understanding, which are currently under discussion with the Chinese side and have yet to be finalized.

There are going to be no agreements on key issues like cross-border energy cooperation and signing of the implementation plan of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), yet they are a part of the agenda for discussions during Dahal’s visit.

Similarly, Dahal will request China to fund a BRI-project through a grant, but the minister declined to name the project. The prime minister will make requests and take up several issues and matters, including writing off the loans of the Pokhara International Airport and five Chinese planes.

Execution of past agreements and accords will also be discussed during the prime minister’s meeting with top Chinese leaders including President Xi Jinping, Premier Li and other provincial leaders, and the senior leaders of the Communist Party of China. The Chinese side has thus far refused to write off both the loans related to the Pokhara International airport and five Chinese-made aircraft. Nevertheless, the Nepali side will take up the matter with the Chinese, said one minister.

The Pokhara International Airport has failed to do desirable business, and the government is now seeking a write-off of the loan taken from China’s EXIM Bank. The five aircraft that were purchased from China lie grounded in Nepal. After failing to generate any income, successive governments mulled various options on what to do with the grounded Chinese aircraft.

Though the Chinese are not positive about writing off two loans that come to around Rs30 billion, the prime minister will push for their write-offs, the ministers added. The cabinet also decided to give an ‘approval in principle’ to the prime minister for any other agreements that may be signed, pending approval by the government after his return.

During the delegation level talks with former President Bidya Devi Bhandari, Xi had announced a RMB3.5 billion aid, equivalent to 65 billion Nepali rupees, for 2020–2022. But due to the Nepali side’s failure to hold the negotiations with the Chinese side, Nepal is yet to receive the grant announced by President Xi.

Other issues are expected to be agriculture, health, road connectivity, opening up of the border points, energy cooperation and the growing trade deficit with China. Meanwhile, the map China issued without showing Nepal's extended areas in Kalapani has also irked Nepali political leaders, which may have to be flagged by the PM.


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