Thursday, 25 April, 2024

President Xi arriving Saturday, connectivity top agenda for agreement


By Modnath Dhakal
Kathmandu, Oct. 11: Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet his Nepali counterpart Bidya Devi Bhandari following his arrival in Kathmandu in the afternoon on Saturday.
According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Xi will arrive at the Tribhuvan International Airport at 4:30 PM for a 2-day official visit. The only international airport has decided to hold all commercial flights for two and half hours during Xi’s arrival.
Xi will have three formal programmes on Saturday. He will hold a bilateral meeting with President Bidya Devi Bhandari in the evening when the two heads of states will discuss issues of mutual interest. He will meet Chairman of Nepali Congress and leader of the main opposition Sher Bahadur Deuba, and will participate in dinner.
President Xi will hold a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli on Sunday morning when signing of the bilateral agreements will take place. The visiting President will meet Chairman of the Nepal Communist Party (NCP) Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’. He is scheduled to return to Beijing in the afternoon the same day.
Nepal has completed preparations to welcome President Xi, who is the first Chinese president visiting Nepal in the last 23 years. Exchanges of high-level visits between the two countries have taken place in between, including the visit by erstwhile Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao in January 2012.
Vice-Premier of the State Council of China Wang Yang visited Nepal in August 2017 during which the two neighbours signed an agreement on economic and technical cooperation, framework agreement on promotion of investment and economic cooperation, and letters of exchange for oil and gas resources exploration in Nepal.
Minister for Communication and Information Technology Gokul Prasad Baskota said that connectivity would be the main agenda during the bilateral meeting of President Xi and PM Oli.
Up on agenda for this visit of the Chinese president are Keyrung-Kathmandu Railway, Kimathanka-Leguwa, Korala-Palpa and Hilsa-Surkhet road connectivity with border development, Chhahara-Tokha tunnel way, upgrading of Arniko highway, hydroelectricity development, cross-border fibre optics connectivity and establishment of Madan Bhandari Science and Technology University.
Upper Trishuli Hydropower, Kathmandu Ring Road Improvement, Larcha and Timure Frontier Inspection Station, Pokhara International Airport, upgrade of Syaphrubensi-Rasuwagadhi Road, Kodari Highway and Civil Service Hospital, and restoration of bordering bridges at Kodari and Rasuwagadhi are major on-going Chinese projects in Nepal.
Nepal wants support from the competitive Chinese technical and technological expertise in infrastructure development, including roads, railways, tunnels and hydroelectricity projects.
Likewise, the northern neighbour is the second largest trading partner and second largest source country for tourists of Nepal with Rs. 207 billion bilateral trade in 2018/19 and 153,633 Chinese tourists.
Nepal wants China to allow more Nepali products that have competitive and comparative advantage in the Chinese markets and support in sending more tourists to make the Visit Nepal 2020 a success.
To discuss the entire realm of bilateral relations, the two countries have established Nepal-China Joint Consultation Mechanism led by foreign secretary of Nepal and vice-minister of the foreign ministry of China. Other bilateral instruments are Nepal-China Inter-Governmental Economic and Trade Committee, Nepal-China Joint Committee on Agriculture Cooperation, Border Law Enforcement Cooperation, Boarder Customs Meeting, Joint Tourism Coordination Committee, Nepal-China’s Tibet Trade Facilitation Committee, Energy Cooperation Mechanism, and Mechanism for Facilitation on the Implementation of China-Nepal Cooperation Programmes and Projects in Nepal.
President Xi has shown a great interest in Nepal’s nature and culture and promised support in making the Visit Nepal Year 2020 a success by encouraging more Chinese tourists to visit Nepal. In an article published in this daily Friday, he also indicated towards the development of trans-Himalayan connectivity network.
“Nepal has been an active participant in the Belt and Road cooperation, and is working with China on a number of infrastructure projects to build or upgrade highways, ports, airports and power plants,” he said. “A trans-Himalayan connectivity network is thus taking shape, which will serve not just our two countries but also the region as a whole.”