Nepal can bank on ties with China: Experts

Rekha Shrestha

Kathmandu, April 5:

The recent visit of Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing to Nepal is being interpreted as a good one from Nepal’s point of view with China billed as an “all-weather friend.” The possible visit of King Gyanendra to China to attend the annual conference of the Boao Forum for Asia could take ties to a new height. The claims to this effect have come from former diplomats and experts. “We have learnt that China does not interfere in a friendly country’s

internal affairs,” said Yubaraj Singh Pradhan, a former envoy to China.

He was of the view that “the very thought that China is there strikes the right balance. That stops others from interfering.” Undoubtedly the visit was crucial since Nepal was in an ignominious position following the postponement of the 13th Summit of the South

Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). More so, since King Gyanendra was scheduled to attend the Summit. “This explains the efficacy of the visit. That could not have been more appropriately timed,” said Pradhan, who believes that Zhaoxing’s visit was a compensation to Nepal since the Chinese Prime Minister had skipped Nepal during his tour of the four South Asian countries. There are also claims that the visit has made it clear that neither China is in any mood to supply arms to Nepal nor is Nepal in need of the same.

The proposed royal visit to China is already being taken as a token of traditional ties culminating in crucial exchanges with Nepal gaining in prestige. “It will be a statement to the world in its own way. They will know how important Nepal is to China. It will be a message to those who have a design here,” Pradhan said.

The royal visit will also be the first one abroad after the King’s February 1 move. “Since the visit is in connection with the high-profile Boao meeting scheduled from April 22 to 24 at a tranquil town on the eastern coast of South China’s Hainan Province, it is also expected to be fruitful in the country’s economic enhancement,” said a foreign affairs expert.

Ironically, the proposed Asian highway which will pass through Nepal towards the north is, meanwhile, expected to bind both the southern and northern powers in “more comfortable” relationship. There are also possibilities of a quadrangle tourism flourishing between Lhasha-Kathmandu-Lumbini-Kailash and Mansarobar corridor once the Koshi-Lhasa is commissioned. This explains why China is showing interest in joining SAARC.

Yet another China hand who sees the King’s visit in positive light is Hiranyan Lal Shrestha. “The visit will prove crucial if vital issues are explored in the Boao meeting,” Shrestha said, claiming that the events could prove significant bilaterally and regionally.

While the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) is yet to announce the schedule of the royal visit, official website of the Summit has already impanelled King Gyanendra’s name in the list of confirmed participants.