China-Nepal Think Tank Conference concludes

KATHMANDU, Jan. 19 (Nepal Foreign Affairs)--A two-day conference on “China-Nepal Think Tank Conference” jointly organized by Xinhua News Agency Kathmandu Bureau and Nepal Study Centre at Hebei University of China concluded here in Kathmandu on Wednesday.

Scholars from China and Nepal aired their views on various issues pertaining to China-Nepal relations, China-India-Nepal trilateral partnership as well as Economic and Cultural Corridor (CINECC) and the One Belt One Road Initiative introduced by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Executive Deputy Director of Institute of South Asian Studies at Sichuan University, Ms. Li Tao, made her presentation on “Belt One Road: Emerging Opportunity for China-Nepal relation”.

Ms. Tao shed light on five advantages of OBOR for Nepal, namely, promoting connectivity, cultural and religious exchanges between China and Nepal, developing people-to-people communication, complementarity of natural resources and economic structure for economic and trade cooperation, solid foundation for policy cooperation. The professor viewed that the OBOR can improve trilateral( China-Nepal- India) relations.

Ms Tao identified impediments on China-Nepal cooperation. According to her, the West particularly the United States is posing hurdles on China-Nepal cooperation.

Tao said India considers “China factor” as the most important reason to developing relation with Nepal.

Di Fangyao, who is the Deputy Director of Institute of South Asia, Xizang Minzu University of China, presented the paper on the topic “Thinking in Building the China-Nepal-India Economic Corridor.”

Mr. Fangyao said that construction of China-Nepal-India Economic corridor will bring significant changes in South Asia and South East Asia, helping to lift millions of people from poverty.

“Building the corridor will also enhance tolerance, mutual respect and friendship between three countries,” Di Fangyao said. He said that this corridor will help Nepal take a leap from economic stagnation and poverty.  He stressed on advancing China-Nepal-India Corridor saying that this should be the top priority of the three countries.

On the occasion, Huang Youyi presented paper on “promoting mutual understanding and cementing friendly ties: What media can do and have done”.

Youyi highlighted that China and Chinese people think of Nepal as “peaceful, serene, friendly and beautiful” country. He said that Chinese media extensively covers Nepal.

Youyi pointed out the fact that Nepali media coverage on China is 21 percent positive, 67 percent mutual and 11 percent negative.

On the contrary, he pointed out; Chinese media coverage on Nepal issue is 99 percent positive.  He stressed on the need for greater information and media exchange between Nepal and China.

Chinese scholars Yang Luhuiand and Wang Meiling jointly presented a paper on “OBOR” strategy and Asian Community of Common destiny. They argued that OBOR can carve the prosperous future and shape the destiny of the people not only in the South Asia regiona but across the world.

Senior fellow of Charhar Institute Prof Dr Wang Yiwei presented the paper on the topic “Belt and Road (BAR): Revival of Civilizations.”

Yiwei, who is also the Director of Institute of International Affairs of Remnin University of China, stressed on the need for reviving the old Silk Road not only for the reviving connectivity with South Asia and beyond but also for reviving the great civilizational links this part of the world had in the ancient times.

Experts from Nepal commented on papers presented by the Chinese scholars. Nepal’s Former Secretary Mr. Tulsi Prasad Sitaula, who is expert on connectivity, observed that Nepal seems like a “silent observer” to the great initiative taken by China like the One Belt One Road.

“What are Nepal’s preparations for realizing this grand One Belt One Road Initiative?” he asked.  Sitaula said that Chinese think tank should find way out and forward their recommendations to the government of Nepal regarding how Nepal can benefit from the OBOR Initiative.

Connectivity expert Dr Surya Raj Acharya said “Asia had taken a break in history, now it is coming back to revive those golden periods. China’s plan to revive the Silk Road Initiative suggests the same. ”

“Peace, prosperity, harmony and brotherhood were the foundation of China/India civilizations,” he said.  Acharya said that skepticism on OBOR is unfounded.

Acharya pointed out that the OBOR will have spillover effects globally. China should work on technology transfer to make countries like Nepal technologically independent, he said.

“We don’t need to mix OBOR with international politics and international diplomacy, he said.  We need to intensify our efforts at people-to-people, government-to-government and professionals-to-professionals level to so that what China achieved through its economic and technological development could be transferred to Nepal as well,” he said.

On the occasion, Former Attorney General Dr Yubaraj Sangroula was of the view that the Western countries including the US are in Nepal to create instability here and to encircle China. “China and Nepal together should fight them,” he said.

Sangroula said that Nepal is the only country in the world with the history of cultural assimilation with China.  “China-Nepal interaction should be deeper and more engaged,” he said.

Sangroula recommended that there should be direct flight link between Nepal and Kailash so that Hindus of India could go on pilgrimage to Kailash through Nepal and Chinese Buddhists could come to Nepal through the same route to visit Lumbini

In the second session of today’s seminar, Zhang Shubin, Deputy Director, Nepal Study Center at Heibei University of Economics and Business presented paper on the topic “A Practical Way to Achieve Nepal’s Stability and Prosperity: China-Nepal-India Economic and Cultural Corridor.”

“In terms of population and size, Nepal is no small country,” he said adding “The world should first shed this mindset.”

He said that China’s Kailash and Manasarovar, Nepal’s Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha and India’s Bodhgaya and Sarnath can be developed into cultural corridors to bring the people of the three countries together culturally. “If India joins hands with China in helping Nepal, Nepal’s Kathmandu can be developed into Brussels of South Asia,” he viewed.  He opined that economic and cultural connectivity between three countries provide ways to achieve peace and prosperity in the South Asian region.

Jiang Rui, Director of the Research Center for United Front of Shandong University, and Deputy Director of Institute of Contemporary Socialism of Shandong University said China, Nepal and India have long history of cultural communication.

“Economic exchanges are essential but cultural communication is also indispensable,” he said. He went on to say that we should take the Buddhist culture as the starting point, give full play to affinity, continuity and bridge role of cultural bond, promote the friendly development of China-India- Nepal relations and jointly promote the construction of the Belt and Road to realize the situation of economic win-win, people-to-people bond and harmonious development of the three countries.

Wang Zihao, Nepali language teacher and researcher of Institute of South Asian Studies, Xizang Minzu University presented paper on the topic “Evolution of Geopolitical Influence of China-Nepal’s Geelong (Kerung) Port in South Asian Area in the context of the Belt and Road Initiative.”

Zihao said that Kerung port is an important passage for interconnection of the China’s Xizang and South Asian countries and the only available land-passage for China and Nepal, after 2015 earthquakes.  He suggested that Kerung can be developed as the “most versatile port in the Tibet Autonomous Region” which will provide a passage to rest of the world.

Sundarnath Bhattarai, who is the acting chairman of China Study Centre in Kathmandu, said that the idea of culture as a bridge is indisputable. He said that Chinese and Nepali scholars and artists from the days of early history have sown the seeds of cultural connectivity.

While giving his remarks, Nepalese diplomat Dr Shambhuram Simkhada described the OBOR as a “win-win vision of international relation” for in it “lies the welfare of all.”  He appreciated the rise of China in the global arena.  “In the context that the world has seen president Xi as the leader of the world, China has much to offer to the rest of the world,” he said.

Dr Simkhada said China-Nepal think tank should be instrumental in finding ways to face the challenges these countries are facing collectively.

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