Kirti Nidhi Bista
Former Nepal Prime Minister
Ever since the founding of the republic some 60 years ago (article written in 2009), the People’s Republic of China has been shining distinctly. Chinese people have experienced unprecedented economic growth and development during the last 15 years or so. In fact, the Chinese feat in the economic sphere has been so profound that it has opened up several new frontiers to present day academicians and practitioners for research study in better understanding economic growth. China came to the rescue of Asia during the 1997 financial crisis and is expected to assist the United States and Europe to overcome the global financial meltdown of 2007-2008. It seems certain that China is destined to embark upon greater tasks in future for the benefit of humanity as a whole.
Chinese success stories in several fronts are piling up day by day. Chinese successful mission to moon is now recorded as the third country to have achieved this feat after the Russian Federation (formerly Soviet Union) and the United States. The three gorges dam, completed with Chinese ingenuity and resources, and the Qinghai- Lhasa railway, with its highest point at 5072 meters, offer excellent examples which challenge the imaginations of engineering students worldwide. China has also made an important contribution in the agricultural field by introducing several varieties of high yield rice to cater to its huge population. China has been consistently maintaining and gradually increasing its lead in athletics, swimming and other sporting events. Spectacular convening of Beijing Olympics 2008 and the country’s exemplary performance has added another feather in China’s cap.
Nepal is fortunate to have found a true friend in China, the country envied by the global community for its astonishing achievements. By adhering truthfully to the five principles of peaceful coexistence in her relations with Nepal, China has set an example of an ideal relationship between a giant and a small nation. Sino-Nepal relations can be related to the greatest mountain on earth, the Himalaya, which has a special role of bringing the two countries together yet keeping the sovereignty and territorial integrity separate and intact. The foundation of Sino-Nepal relations is anchored in the understanding, mutual trust and respect and most importantly non-interference in the internal affairs of each other. Neither the regime changes in Nepal nor major upheavals in politics in China were good enough to put a dent on ever growing harmonious and friendly relations between the two countries. In fact, both the countries have shown the necessary understanding and consideration to the sensitivities and needs of the people.
Chinese people have amply shown their generosity and affection to Nepalese people even during their difficult times. China, a poor developing country herself in the 1960s, dug deep in her pocket to help Nepal build the Arniko highway that links Nepal with China. China also helped Nepal build her first inter-city transportation network by establishing a trolley bus service that used to ply between the cities of Kathmandu and Bhaktapur. The only ring road in the city of Kathmandu is also built with Chinese technology and assistance. Besides the transportation sector, China helped Nepal in her industrialization efforts by setting up leather and shoes factory, paper and brick factories directly and cloth, sugar and several other industries indirectly. The international convention center and the civil servants hospital opposite to it in new Baneswor (Kathmandu) as well as the international standard swimming pool speak of Chinese assistance to Nepalese people in recent time.
The Chinese paramount leader Deng Xiao Ping who changed the course of China’s development leading to quick and continuous economic growth by his innovative and pragmatic policies with Chinese characteristics had offered an important suggestion to Nepal. During a meeting with me in the late 1970s, he had emphasized that grants alone would not help much in Nepal’s need for development but it should begin a new chapter of accepting soft loan as well which China was willing to offer. It is so gratifying to note that Premier Deng’s far sighted perspective has turned into reality as China is now keen to invest in Nepal in various sectors.
Nepal looks forward to China for massive investment in sectors where the Chinese people, too, could share some of the benefits. Larger projects along with hydropower irrigation
Facilities would require sizeable investment which Nepal lacks at this moment. Essentially being an agricultural country engaging over 65% of the population, Nepal needs to improvise its farming for higher productivity and output. China can also take up construction of fertilizer plants together with the hydropower projects so that the power generated would be optimally utilized. Kathmandu’s vehicular traffic is an eyesore to residents of the valley. Chinese command in infrastructure building can be utilized in creating a network of flyovers in the city serving its ever growing population. Advancing Sino-Nepali herbal medicine as a joint project for the benefit of the poor people living along the border would go a long way in keeping these deprived people healthy and well.
Good health and prosperity is the best way to keep the people engaged in productive activities and out of trouble. Neither China nor Nepal can afford not to pay full attention to their backward areas and invite trouble. Recent skirmishes in and around the Tibet Autonomous Region, though inflicted by outside instigation and support, nevertheless could have been avoided if the local community were hale and hearty as well as prosperous. At this time when China is capable of making a larger investment with appropriate technology, it would do well for both countries to launch an integrated project of substantial size involving local resources and manpower. Consideration can also be given to creating a unique tourism network combining adventure, pilgrimage and research study on ancient medicine and the likes. For all of these activities to take place, Nepal needs to be stable, safe and secure.
At this particular period of transformational transition, Nepal needs all the support that it can get from its closest neighbors. The neighbors can extend political understanding and support to Nepal’s serious efforts to govern as a federal democratic republic. They can also provide significant development assistance crucial to sustain Nepal’s momentum of change. With their support Nepal can emerge as a stable democracy. Nepal, on her part, has maintained her commitment that she will not allow her land to be used against any untoward activities directed against her neighbors. People of Nepal will back all governmental actions taken to prevent such activities in any manner. The people will absorb all sorts of criticisms and obstructions launched by international agencies and interested countries but will never shirk away from their responsibility of up keeping their commitments made to their neighbors.
Nepal’s one China policy in- regard to Taiwan and Tibet as an integral part of China is unquestionable. Nepalese people will do everything in their power to ensure the sanctity of this people-to-people commitment made out of freewill and based on historical facts and records. No power on earth can deter Nepalese people’s resolve in this regard.
China cannot be contained within the ambit of its role as a shining star of Asia but she must also fulfill her international obligation arising out of her membership in the Security Council. About to become the second largest economy, just behind the United States, China needs to also pay equal attention to the global socio-economic issues including development cooperation. Her strategic location gives her a clear advantage to play the role more effectively than others in the Asian region. Asian neighbors, particularly Nepal, see with admiration China’s successful strides in all fields that matter to all developing countries of all continents trying very hard to better the life of their starving billions.
The Nepalese people heartily congratulate China on her 60th birthday. Long live Nepal China relationship!
# An article penned by the author and published in the “Journal of International Affairs”, in its April-September, 2009 issue. The article is still relevant and thus presented in the larger interest of the readers both within and without: The original title of this article has been changed. Thanks the author and the Journal. Ed.