Chinese Vice-Premier in Nepal amid Doklam stand-off, OBOR and reconstructions on agenda

Nepal Foreign Affairs (KATHMANDU,14 August 2017) – Chinese Vice-Premier Wang Yang landed in Kathmandu on Monday afternoon following the visit of Indian External Affairs Minister Shushma Swaraj to Nepal in course of attending BIMSTEC ministerial meetings. Shushma had held extensive political dialogue with political actors of Nepal.

Wang, who is politburo member of Chinese Communist Party (CPC), was received by Jitendra Dev, Tourism and Civil Aviation Minister at the International Airport.This is the highest level delegation from China after the visit of Wen Jiabao, Prime Minister of China to Nepal in Jan 2012. Prime Minister Jiabao then had spent 5 hours in Kathmandu.

Vice-Premier Yang Nepal visit has been considered significant at a time when Nepal’s Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba is scheduled to visit India on 23 August as his first abroad visit. Similarly, his visit has been at the backdrop of stand-off between China and India on Doklam, a Chinese territory bordered to Bhutan.

The stand-off  between China and India since the first week of June has been creating havoc in South Asia Region including Nepal. Both China and India have reached out to Nepal to clarify their positions on that disputed strategic point. Nepal has maintained ‘neutrality’ so far despite the India’s covert pressure over Prime Minister Deuba, a New Dehli loyalist. It is reported that Chinese Ambassador to Nepal had also put China’s official position on Doklam to Nepal government.

Vice-Premier visit this time, therefore, carries significant strategic and political meanings as some agreements would be signed on reconstruction and the progress of past agreements and understandings would be reviewed. But at the centre of the visit is the Beijing’s ”policy of engagement”. Deuba’s elevation as Prime Minister of Nepal had already been a known fact after the ouster of KP Sharma Oli, who set a historic record of diversifying trade to northern China.

In later years, Deuba had never been in contact with the Chinese leadership. In fact, Deuba never internalized Foreign Policy as a an entity of domestic policy. When he became Prime Minister for fourth time, he was invited by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to visit India  on the convenient time. China also congratulated and wished to work with him to make bilateral relations more cordial and friendly.

China’s declared foreign policy is to engage with the power that is executed by  government. Therefore, one of the major agenda of this visit of Vice-Premier is to assure Prime Minister Deuba that China was always willing to work with him for the further betterment of bilateral relations.

Secondly, Chinese Vice-Premier will reiterate the implementations of the past agreements and understanding including the transit and transport agreement, connectivity between China-Nepal through railways and transmission lines. Similarly, the endorsement and implementation of the dream project of Chinese President Xi Jinping – ‘One Belt, One Road’ is second important agenda of Chinese side.  Since Prime Minister Deuba tried to stay aloof of Chinese priority, the need of Beijing is to convince him to take the ownership of all those initiated in the past.

Thus, Vice-Premier visit has more political and strategic meaning than the fixed agenda of economic, infrastructure and reconstructions.

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