By Gopal Khanal (KATHMANDU) – The story revolves around the recent visit of CPN-UML General Secretary, Shankar Pokhrel, to the People’s Republic of China. Pokhrel, who also holds the distinction of being the founding Chief Minister of Lumbini Pradesh and a former Communication and Information Minister of Nepal, is a prominent figure within the party. Known as an ideologue, he is a staunch follower of People’s Multiparty Democracy (PMD), a guiding principle of the party that was propounded by the late Madan Bhandari.
Pokhrel is highly regarded for his ability to eloquently communicate on a wide range of issues, both domestic and international. His expertise spans various domains, from politics to geopolitics, economics to environmental matters.
Pokhrel embarked on his visit to China in response to an invitation extended by the Chinese Communist Party International Department (CPCID). Leading a 22-member delegation, his trip spanned from September 3 to September 15, 2023. This high-level delegation comprised members of the party’s Standing Committee, Central Committee, heads of affiliated party organizations, representatives from local governments, and members of central departments.
The visit encompassed three major cities of unique significance: Chongqing, Beijing, and Qinghai. These cities serve as prime examples showcasing the remarkable progress that China has achieved under the leadership of Xi Jinping, who holds the positions of General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and President of China.
Before highlighting the visit of the General Secretary to PRC, we should understand the modern China and how it has emerged as a major global power in the changing geopolitical dynamics.
Let’s contemplate over it.
China currently holds the distinction of being the world’s second-largest economy, boasting a staggering GDP of $19.4 trillion. Additionally, when measured in terms of Purchase Power Parity (PPP), it surpasses all other nations, solidifying its status as the largest economy on this metric. Notably, China has achieved an unparalleled feat in economic growth, maintaining a double-digit growth rate for three decades, spanning from the 1980s to 2010. This remarkable achievement has led to the eradication of poverty in China by 2021, a historic milestone that lifted around 800 million people out of poverty in just 40 years.
China’s economic prowess extends to its role as the world’s foremost manufacturer, with a substantial 37 percent share in global E-commerce. Furthermore, it is the largest exporter and the second-largest importer worldwide, reflecting its integral role in the global trade landscape.
Under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, China has embraced a policy of “Shared Development, Shared Destiny.” This approach emphasizes international cooperation and mutual benefit, in contrast to the United States’ “protectionist” stance. While the U.S. has been busy building security alliances with a particular focus on the Indo-Pacific region, China has taken the initiative on the global stage to counteract the influence of such military groupings. This proactive stance has led to China’s emergence as a prominent player in global diplomacy and international affairs.
In summary, China’s extraordinary economic achievements, eradication of poverty, and global leadership under President Xi Jinping’s guidance have positioned it as a central player in the world’s political and economic landscape, challenging traditional paradigms and fostering a more inclusive approach to global development.
President Xi Jinping has introduced a series of initiatives since his announcement of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in 2013. These initiatives mark China’s expanding global influence and commitment to various aspects of international cooperation and development.
Belt and Road Initiative (BRI): President Xi’s landmark initiative launched in 2013, the Belt and Road Initiative, has garnered participation from 155 countries worldwide. This ambitious project aims to foster economic connectivity, infrastructure development, and trade cooperation across Asia, Europe, and Africa, creating a modern Silk Road.
Global Development Initiative (GDI): In September 2021, President Xi Jinping introduced the Global Development Initiative (GDI). This initiative likely focuses on addressing global development challenges, such as poverty alleviation, sustainable development, and cooperation in various fields to promote global prosperity.
Global Security Initiative (GSI): President Xi announced the Global Security Initiative (GSI) in February 2023, reflecting China’s growing commitment to addressing global security challenges. The GSI may involve initiatives related to international security, conflict resolution, counter-terrorism, and peacekeeping efforts.
Global Civilization Initiative (GCI) : In March 2023, President Xi unveiled another initiative. It demonstrates China’s continued proactive role in shaping global policies and addressing contemporary international issues.
These initiatives collectively highlight China’s increasing involvement in global affairs, covering various aspects of development, security, and cooperation. They reflect China’s aspiration to play a more prominent role in shaping the future of the international community and contributing to global stability and progress.
Returning to the visit of General Secretary Pokhrel, the first city on the itinerary was Chongqing, which has emerged as a major economic hub in southwestern China and holds significant importance for Nepal. Chongqing presents itself as a potential new trading market for Nepal.
Situated in the southwestern inland region of China and positioned along the upper reaches of the Yangtze River, Chongqing boasts jurisdiction over 38 districts and counties, covering an extensive area of 82,400 square kilometers. The city is home to a population of approximately 32.133 million permanent residents and has achieved a commendable urbanization rate of 70.96 percent.
Chongqing’s population primarily comprises Han Chinese, with other ethnic groups, including Tujia and Miao people, forming a significant minority. This demographic diversity adds to the city’s cultural richness and creates opportunities for cross-cultural exchanges and collaborations between Chongqing and Nepal.
The strategic location of Chongqing, its robust economic development, and the presence of a diverse population make it an ideal for Nepal to explore as a potential new trading market. The visit of General Secretary Pokhrel likely aimed to initiate discussions on trade cooperation, market access, and mutually beneficial partnerships between Nepal and Chongqing, leveraging the city’s economic significance and demographic diversity.
Known as a distinctive “mountain and river city,” Chongqing is renowned for its rugged terrain, with hills and mountains covering a significant 76 percent of its land. The majestic Yangtze River flows through Chongqing, stretching across 691 kilometers, and is joined by tributaries such as the Jialing River and Wujing River. Chongqing boasts a wealth of tourism resources, including the Three Gorges, the Dazu Rock Carvings—a UNESCO World Heritage site—and the Wulong Karst Landscape and Nanchuan Jinfo Mountain, both designated as UNESCO World Natural Heritage sites.
In 1891, Chongqing achieved historical significance as the first inland commerce port open to foreign trade. During the period of resistance against Japanese Aggression, Chongqing played a crucial role as the wartime capital of the Republic of China and the Far East Command Center for the World Anti-Fascist War. Additionally, during the conflict against Japanese aggression and the early stages of the Liberation War, the Southern Bureau of the CPC Central Committee in Chongqing, led by Comrade Zhou Enlai, took on the responsibility of guiding party organizations and united front efforts in Kuomintang-controlled regions, as well as in Hong Kong, Macao, and overseas territories. Chongqing holds a unique status as the sole centrally-administered municipality in Central and Western China.
During our four-day visit to Chongqing, we had the opportunity to explore various aspects of this dynamic city. One of our notable destinations was the Bishan district, renowned as Chongqing’s industrial heart. During our visit, we had the privilege of observing several key establishments, including FinDreams Battery Co. Ltd, the Advanced Data Center of Western China Science City, KONKA Semiconductor Optoelectronics Technology Industrial Park, and the Hulong Communist Party Building at the Primary Level.
Additionally, our itinerary included a visit to the CPC Chongqing Party School, where we were impressed by the community service centers dedicated to providing subsidized meals for the elderly population. These centers operate with an open-door policy, ensuring that local elderly citizens can access their services at any time.
On September 4th, our journey continued with an enlightening session at the party school. We had the opportunity to gain insights into Xi Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era and Chongqing’s implementation of Chinese Modernization. Esteemed professors from the party school shared their expertise with us, enhancing our understanding of these important subjects. In the afternoon, a significant highlight awaited us as we participated in the Smart China Expo 2023 Summit. It was an honor for Nepal as General Secretary was introduced as special guests of the expo.
On September 5th, we had the opportunity to experience China’s high-speed rail. In addition to this, we also visited the Three Gorges Vocational College and the Yunyang Planning Gallery. Every moment of our visit to China was memorable, but the high-level meetings were undoubtedly the most significant part of our trip.
One of the members of the politburo of the Communist Party of China (CPC), Yuan Jiajun held a crucial one-hour delegation-level meeting with our General Secretary at the Wudu Hotel. It’s worth noting that Yuan had previously visited Nepal in the third week of July, where, on July 25th, he had a meeting with the President of CPN-UML and former Prime Minister of Nepal, KP Sharma Oli, at the latter’s office. This meeting lasted for one hour and 30 minutes and covered a wide range of topics related to Nepal and China.
The meeting between General Secretary Pokhrel and Politburo member Yuan was a follow-up meeting to discuss their agenda, despite being their first official meeting. Reflecting on his previous visit to Nepal and his meeting with UML President Oli, Yuan emphasized the multifaceted nature of Nepal-China relations. Both leaders also reminisced about the historic visit of President Xi to Nepal in October 2019 and reaffirmed their commitment to implementing the agreements reached between their two countries.
Concluding the four-day visit to Chongqing, the team led by General Secretary arrived in Beijing on September 7th.
Note: Please note that the visit to Beijing will be discussed in the second part, and the details of different meetings will also be presented separately.
- Khanal is a member of the CPN-UML’s Department of Foreign Affairs and holds the position of head of the China Desk. He was part of the delegation during a visit.