Kathmandu, April 24
President Bidhya Devi Bhandari reached Xi’an of Shaanxi Province this afternoon on the first leg of her nine-day state visit to China at the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Upon arrival at the Xianyang International Airport of Xi’an, Bhandari was received by Vice Governor of Shaanxi Province Hu Minglang, Ambassador of Nepal to China Leela Mani Paudyal, Ambassador of China to Nepal Hou Yanqi and other senior officials of China, according to a press release issued by the Nepali Embassy in Beijing.
The president had left for Xi’an from Kathmandu at around 9:00am this morning on a special chartered flight of Nepal Airlines Corporation.
Vice President Nanda Bahadur Pun and Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli saw her off at Tribhuvan International Airport.
Bhandari is accompanied by Minister of Foreign Affairs Pradeep Kumar Gyawali, Province 3 Chief Minister Dormani Paudel, members of Parliament, high-ranking government officials, and a business delegation.
Shaanxi Province Governor Liu Guozhong will call on President Bhandari tomorrow afternoon, before she leaves for Beijing in the evening, according to the press release.
She will lead a Nepali delegation to the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation which kicks off in Beijing tomorrow.
On April 26, President Bhandari will address the third of the three high-level sessions and present Nepal’s views on sustainable development.
In the evening, she will attend a welcome banquet organised by Chinese President Xi in honour of heads of state/government attending the Belt and Road Initiative Forum.
She will also take part in the leaders’ round table on April 27 and present Nepal’s views on BRI, how to move forward with the initiative and what are Nepal’s benefits and stakes in the initiative.
Sources at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that Bhandari was one of the selected leaders invited for the round table, and it was an opportunity for Nepal to put forth its priorities on BRI among all its signatories.
The same evening, the BRI Forum will adopt a joint communiqué which will include projects in Nepal under the initiative, including those related to the Trans-Himalayan Multi-Dimensional Connectivity Network. The communiqué will also include upcoming projects on trade, transit and connectivity, according to sources.
On April 28, Bhandari will attend the opening ceremony of International Horticulture Exhibition and inaugurate the Nepali pavilion.
Bhandari will lead the Nepali delegation in the Nepal-China bilateral talks with a Chinese team led by President Xi on April 29. It will be followed by a signing ceremony, in which Nepal and China will sign a number of bilateral agreements, including the Protocol to the Nepal-China Transit Transport Agreement.
The protocol will pave the way for implementation of the TTA that was signed in March 2016 during Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s China visit. The Protocol to the TTA has allowed Nepal to use Shenzen, Lianyungang, Zhanjiang and Tianjin seaports, ending Nepal’s sole dependence on Indian ports for overseas trade.
Other agreements planned are those related to customs cooperation, expediting Chinese-aided projects in Nepal and on cultural property protection aimed at curbing illegal trade of cultural artefacts.
The two sides will also sign an agreement on boosting cooperation between Nepal Bureau of Standard and Metrology and Standardisation Administration of China.
The same evening, Bhandari will attend a banquet organised by Zhao Leji, member of Politburo Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China.
President Bhandari will leave for Tibet Autonomous Region of China on April 30, where she will meet provincial leaders the following day. She will return home on May 2.
A version of this article appears in print on April 25, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.