By Saibal Dasgupta,TNN ( BEIJING Jul 2, 2015) – China has revealed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has responded “positively” to its proposal to build an economic corridor, which include road and rail links, connecting three countries~China, Nepal and India.
This is besides the China backed program, Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) with road and sea linkages starting from the Chinese city of Kunming. China recently opened up a new route for Indian pilgrims visiting Mansarovar in Tibet from the Nathu La border.
The corridor through Nepal was discussed during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to China last March, according to Huang Xilian, deputy director general of the Asian Affairs departs of the Chinese foreign ministry.
“This will be a major initiative in promoting connectivity in this region, especially between our three countries and help our common neighbor Nepal. We were happy that it was also positively received by Prime Minister Modi,” Huang said.
On its part, New Delhi has taken the stance that it is open to new economic ideas but will take decisions based on its national interest criteria, sources in the ministry of external affairs said. Besides, there are military issues involved in opening up several borders at the same time, sources said.
Huang said that the plan was discussed again last month during the recent meeting between external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on the sidelines of an international conference on Nepal reconstruction in Kathmandu.
“The two ministers had further discussion on this topic and reached consensus. We need to work together for the process of reconstruction of Nepal and we need to setup a joint study group to explore the feasibility of the Corridor,” said Huang, he said.
This could be part of China’s plans to further develop its Tibet region, and recover the cost in building the proposal railway line linking Tibet to Nepal. Movement of goods manufactured in China’s southern region for the Indian market can spur growth in the Tibetan region, sources said.
“The construction of this railway will help to materialize a dream. We need to have a feasibility study on it. We need to have consultations among the three. If India shows some interest we can respond positively,” he told Indian journalists.
“We are ready to set up study group for economic corridor. If we can reach an agreement on feasibility we are ready to push forward it as it will bring benefit to the three countries,” he said.
The Chinese enthusiasm is driven by a strong desire to find Indian market for China-made goods at a time when sales of Chinese goods is sliding in the western world. Besides, India has more buying muscle than all other South Asian countries put together.
“China floated the idea for India’s and Nepal’s consideration. Our impression is both countries are positive on this initiative and we are ready to set up study groups on feasibility for such a corridor,” Huang, the points man for India in the Chinese foreign ministry said.
“If we can reach an agreement on feasibility of such an economic corridor, we are willing to push forward this initiative and we believe it will bring benefits,” he said.