Kathmandu: Experts and stakeholders discussed various aspects of Nepal-China relations including BRI, GSI and national security while also offering advice to Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal who is embarking on China visit next week. At the seminar entitled ‘The Evolving Nepal-China Relationship: Navigating Challenges and Seizing Opportunities’ organized by Centre for Social Inclusion and Federalism (CESIF) in Kathmandu on Wednesday, they said that PM’s upcoming visit presents an opportunity for Nepal to raise and resolve existing issues with the northern neighbor.
“The Prime Minister’s visit is seen as an important occasion to resolve the existing issues and strengthen the bilateral ties. It is expected that PM Prachanda will hold a discussion on the various avenues of bilateral relationships, including the long-stalled BRI projects and other issues of economic and bilateral cooperation,” Vijay Kant Karna, Executive Chair at CESIF, said. “While PM Prachanda will have a hard time managing the diversified priorities of the parties in the ruling coalition back home while dealing with China, PM Prachanda’s visit is expected to bring forth some tangible benefits to strengthen the bilateral relationship and resolve existing differences.”
Speaking at the seminar Madhu Raman Acharya, former ambassador, highlighted larger geopolitical ambitions of China. “China has been shifting its goalposts regarding its engagement in Nepal. Earlier China’s engagement was confined largely within arenas of security and trade but now China wants Nepal to be a part of its diverse initiatives – this is directed at realizing its larger geopolitical aims and ambitions,” he said.
General Gaurav Shumsher JB Rana, former Chief of Army Staff at Nepal Army, suggested that Nepal should stick to non-alignment policy amid the growing geopolitical competitions. “In the current geopolitical context, Nepal would be wise to stick to its Constitution’s principles of Panchasheel and non-alignment,” said Rana. “We must be cautious but also flexible in our foreign policy.”
Shisir Khanal, Member of Parliament from Rastriya Swatantra Party (RSP), spoke on the necessity to capitalize upon the Nepal-China relations whilst understanding China’s regional and global position. “There has been a significant shift in the geopolitical landscape when compared to that of the 1950s, 60s,” said Khanal. “Drawing parallels between these different contexts to analyze the contemporary geopolitical situation wouldn’t be so apt- and it doesn’t help in our diplomatic endeavors either.”
Speakers said that Prime Minister’s upcoming visit to Beijing can be a good opportunity to improve Nepal-China bilateral ties.