PM to seek Chinese investment in hydropower

Kathmandu, March 10

Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli is all set to embark on a week-long official visit to China on March 20 with a long wishlist of Chinese support for building mega hydro-electricity, road and gasoline exploration projects.

He is scheduled to hold bilateral talks with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and call on President Xi Jinping in Beijing on March 21.

Officials said the Nepali side would seek Chinese investment in harnessing about 2,200 MW hydropower projects that include Budhigandaki (1,200 MW), Sunkoshi III (585 MW) and Kimathanka-Arun (400 MW).

Prime minister’s foreign relations expert Gopal Khanal told The Himalayan Times that Nepali side would seek Chinese support for these projects. It is yet to be confirmed if any MoU would be inked in this regard during the visit.

Nepal will also seek China’s help to upgrade Araniko Highway and remaining parts of the Ring Road in Kathmandu and speed up work to build Pokhara International Airport.

It is learnt that Chinese side has proposed to seal two agreements the extradition treaty and the mutual legal assistance treaty, which, according to sources, however, are unlikely to get inked in the course of this visit.

The two sides are positive on inking at least seven bilateral agreements, including import of petroleum products from China, Free Trade Agreement and Transit Treaty, according to Khanal.

Initial groundwork for importing at least one third of Nepal’s domestic need of petroleum goods from China was laid when Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Kamal Thapa visited Beijing in December.

Other likely deals include MoU on the issue of trademark registration and protection, Chinese technical and financial support for exploration of oil and gas in Nepal and sister-city agreements between Pokhara and Shannan of Tibet, as well as Bhaktapur and Yushu County of Qinghai Province of China, according to a foreign ministry source.

The two sides are likely to agree on Chinese involvement in building petroleum storage facilities at Panchkhal of Kavre and Nuwakot district to meet at least three months’ national demands during the period of crisis.

During the visit, the two sides will also dwell on enhancing the connectivity between northern districts of Nepal and southern parts of Tibet.

The issue of trans-Himalayan power trade and building of necessary transmission lines would also be taken up, according to sources.

While returning from Beijing, the PM will stop over at Hainan Province of China and attend the annual Boao Forum for Asia conference slated for March 22-26.