Nepal-China railway project will be executed: Envoy Hou

Kathmandu, May 23

Chinese Ambassador to Nepal Hou Yanqi today said although building Nepal-China cross-border railway was not an easy job given the tough terrain, the Chinese side was determined to execute the construction work.

She said the railway line project that runs along some of the highest places of the world needed a lot of studies, and that it was not a job that could be accomplished in a short period, immediately following a political decision. She explained that such projects normally involved four phases — pre-feasibility study, feasibility study, design, and at last, construction. Hou said since pre-feasibility study had been completed, they would now focus on feasibility study.

“Though it is a long-term project, we are determined to execute it step by step. We should neither withdraw from the project at any point, nor should we expect for its completion in two to three years,” Hou said at a press conference at the embassy.

Hou said concerned departments were discussing funding modality for the feasibility study, which needed a huge investment. She made it clear that founding a modality for the railway project — loan or grant — would be known only after the results of feasibility study came out with estimation on the project cost.

According to Hou, mention of China-Nepal Trans-Himalayan Multi-Dimensional Connectivity Network,including cross-border railway, in the Joint Communiqué of the Second Belt and Road Forum held in Beijing from April 25 to 27, indicated the significance of the rail project.

Hou also said the Tatopani border point would be reopened in the next week, but only for cargo transportation. She said Zhangmu city on the Chinese side of the border, that was severely damaged by the 2015 quake was still a precarious place.

On the Protocol to the Trade and Transit Treaty, that was formally exchanged between Nepal and India during recent China visit by President Bidya Devi Bhandari, Ambassador Hou said China had fully opened the door for Nepal to use Chinese ports for its trade with a third country and the world.

As far as the Second BRF is concerned, the ambassador said the forum was able to reach a broad consensus on high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, delivering substantial results.

The ambassador clarified that the BRI did not create a ‘so-called debt-trap’, but many countries got out of the trap of ‘no development’ by participating in BRI cooperation. “The BRI is open, inclusive and transparent. It does not harbour any hidden geopolitical agenda,” according to Hou.