Four signs that suggest China may be happy with new government in Nepal

China has said it is ready to work with the new government in Nepal to expand and deepen friendly exchange and cooperation and pursue high-quality Belt and Road cooperation.

Chinese President Xi Jinping meets with co-chairman of the Nepal Communist Party (NCP) Pushpa Kamal Dahal, also known as Prachanda, in Kathmandu, Nepal, Oct. 13, 2019. (Xinhua/Xie Huanchi)

NL Today

  • Read Time 2 min.

Kathmandu:  Since Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ was appointed the new prime minister of Nepal on December 25, following a sudden rupture in erstwhile democrat-communist alliance, Nepal’s northern neighbor has shown some positive gestures toward the country. Erstwhile PM Sher Bahadur Deuba was perceived by Chinese media as a ‘pro-India’ leader.

Here are four signs which show that Beijing is happy with the new government in Kathmandu.

First, China was the first country to congratulate Dahal moments after he was appointed the PM.  On December 25, right after Dahal was appointed the PM, the Spokesperson of the Chinese embassy in Kathmandu posted a congratulatory note on Twitter. “Warmly congratulate Chairman Prachanda on being appointed as 44th Prime Minister of Nepal,” wrote the Spokesperson of the Chinese embassy in Kathmandu.

Second, next day, on December 26, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Mao Ning congratulated Prchanda and said that China as Nepal’s traditional friend and neighbor deeply values its relations with Nepal. She said that China is ready to work with the new government to expand and deepen friendly exchange and cooperation across the board, pursue high-quality Belt and Road cooperation, inject new impetus into strategic cooperative partnership featuring ever-lasting friendship for development and prosperity and deliver more benefits for peoples of the two countries.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson further stated that with the concerted efforts of the Nepal government and people and through the consultation and coordination of various political parties and political forces, Nepal will enjoy continued stability and socioeconomic development.

Third, on December 27, a team of Chinese experts arrived in Kathmandu to conduct the feasibility study and survey of the China-Nepal cross-border railway. Conducting the feasibility study and survey of the China-Nepal cross-border railway has been a long-cherished dream of Nepali people and an important consensus reached by leaders of Nepal and China, the embassy of China in its press release said. “It is also an integral part of jointly building the Belt and Road Initiative between China and Nepal.”

China said that it gives priority to Nepal’s aspiration and needs and will proactively push ahead with the feasibility study with the grant from China. “The two countries will maintain close contact and coordination in jointly carrying out the work ahead with a view of building trans-Himalayan multi-dimensional connectivity network,” the statement said.

This marks a major development on BRI for there has been no progress on the BRI projects even though Nepal and China had signed the agreement on BRI five years ago in 2017.  Erstwhile government led by Sher Bahadur Deuba was thought to be not so keen on BRI.

Fourth,   on December 28, China opened two-way trade through Rasuwagadhi border point. The Kerung/Rasuwagadhi border point was not fully operational after the Covid-19 outbreak in China.  Though the resumption of trade through Kerung point follows the decision of the Chinese state to ease its strict “zero Covid” policy, it is yet to be seen whether the timing was mere coincidence or it was a part of the Chinese policy to wait until the government change in Kathmandu.  Nepali business people and traders conducting trade with China via land route had long been complaining of non-cooperation from the Chinese side to resume trade in the full-fledged manner.