Leaders, policy makers in Nepal urged to ensure participation in China’s Belt and Road initiative

135444908_14661426174961nKATHMANDU, Dec. 27 (Xinhua) — The political leadership and policy makers in Nepal need to work with China to ensure the country’s active participation in China’s Belt and Road Initiative for the good of the country’s long-term interests and to raise economic prosperity in the Himalayan country, experts said.

Even as the Dahal-led government reiterated its commitment to participating in the initiative on multiple occasions after the current administration came into power in August, experts and media reports are now urging these words from the political leadership to be translated into action soon.

Expressing its keen interest in joining the Belt and Road initiative, Nepal initially signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with China in December 2014. However, Nepal has yet to finalize projects to be developed under the initiative, Kathmandu-based media reports said.

“The current (Pushpa Kamal) Dahal-led administration seems insincere towards implementing agreements with the Chinese government on developing rail and road connectivity and transit facilities, among others, that were reached during the former government,” Madan Kumar Dahal, a professor of economics at the state-run Tribhuvan University, told Xinhua.

He went on to say that due to the lack of the government’s efficiency, implementation of other past agreements reached with neighboring countries including China and India has not been taking place as expected.

Nepal and China had agreed to work under the Belt and Road initiative framework last March when the then Prime Minister K.P Sharma Oli paid an official visit to Beijing.

“Regarding Nepal-China bilateral cooperation, both sides agreed to synergize each other’s development planning, formulate appropriate bilateral cooperation programs and to carry out major projects under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative.”

“Both sides agreed to strengthen connectivity, further step up the land and air links and improve the land transport infrastructure,” part of the joint communique issued during the Nepalese Former Prime Minister’s visit to China stated.

“China’s Belt and Road initiative will connect Asia and Europe, creating more opportunities in trade, investment and infrastructure development in our region,” Professor Dahal said.

“This grand vision, introduced by the Chinese leadership, will be a win-win situation for Nepal and the entire region,” he said, adding “Realizing this fact, the current leadership of Nepal needs to bring roadmaps and formulate plans so as to ensure the country’s active participation in the initiative.”

Dahal said that the initiative could elevate the whole of Asia to a new height by exploring development. “Nepal will become a transit country between two giant economies of China and India through this initiative.”

An editorial piece recently published in the Kantipur Daily, Nepal’s largest selling newspaper, suggested that the Nepalese government is doing very little to implement bilateral deals reached with the Chinese government.

“Landmark deals reached with the Chinese side have not been implemented by the government yet, which have long term significance for the country. The most important thing is action, commitments are not enough,” the editorial piece said.

As Nepal and China are keen to forge trilateral cooperation endeavors between China, Nepal and India, there have been highly positive discourses in Nepal and India regarding the issue in recent times.

“China, Nepal and India can make the trilateral cooperation a part of the Belt and Road Initiative and work on common interests,” Professor Dahal suggested.

However, Rishiraj Adhikari, the prime minister’s Foreign Affairs advisor, refuted allegations from the media and scholars, saying “the current government is keen to join the Belt and Road Initiative.”

“The prime minister is confident that Nepal-China cooperation can be further enhanced under the framework. Particularly, Chinese assistance on developing rail networks and infrastructure development will be vital for us,” he said.

Adhikari added that trilateral cooperation between China, Nepal and India can be a part of the Belt and Road Initiative.

“China is eager to promote the trilateral cooperation, although India is not as encouraged by the idea. On our part, we have promoted the trilateral cooperation and the Belt and Road initiative and want to reap the benefits from such tremendous initiatives,” he added.

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