Tika Jung Thapa
Former President, Nepal Council of World Affairs
Pages from history :
Coming October marks the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Peoples Republic of China, (the article was penned in 2009) which is being reported to be celebrated with various programs all over its country and abroad. This is naturally a fitting occasion for celebration for every Chinese people and to feel proud of the achievement in the socio-economic development that the country has made over the last 6 decades. Very soon, China is going to replace Japan as the third largest economy of the world. China has been the major rescuer of the world from the recent global economic upheavals and even in a period when economic growth in most of the developed countries, is witnessing a downward spiral, the economy of China continues to grow at a very steady rate. Such a feat can be possible only in a situation of peace, political stability and the presence of a political leadership that is imbued with commitment and vision and goes heart and soul to translate those goals and visions into concrete action with utmost sincerity and honesty keeping uppermost the overall welfare of the country and its peoples. As a close neighbor enjoying best of relations since time immemorial, it is most satisfying for Nepal to see the dream and vision of Late Deng Xiaoping, one of the greatest architects of the modern China for a peaceful and prosperous China, come to fruition. The successive Chinese leadership at the helm of power that continued to pursue his vision deserves no less credit for what is China now.
Let me now touch upon our bilateral relations. Though interaction’ between these two countries go back to a hoary past, the formal diplomatic relations in modern times was established in - August 1, 1955. I must say that the relations have since then never been witnessed by any sign of serious strains; they have grown rather strong and expanded in to several areas of mutual benefits. In fact relations between our two countries stand as the perfect example of good neighborliness. The government of Nepal has always been standing firmly in favor of “one china” policy recognizing Tibet as the integral part of China. In every high level visits, Nepalese leaders have reiterated this principled stand and also stated categorically that it would not allow Nepalese territory to be used against activities hostile to China The countries which share a common boarder stretched for around 1400 km don’t have any major problem, another example of our good and harmonious relations.
Exchange of several visits has taken place between the two countries’ deepening further the close and cordial bilateral relations. Available records show that following high level visits have taken so far between the two countries;
From Nepal side: Former Prime Minister Mr.Tanka Prasad Acharya in 1956, Former Prime Minister Mr. Bishweshwar Prasad Koirala in 1960, Late King Mahendra in 1961, Former Prime Minister Mr. Kirtinidhi Bista in 1972, 1978, Late King Birendra in 1973, 1982, 1987, 1993, 1996, Former Prime Minister Mr. Girija Prasad Koirala in 1992, 1993, Former Prime Minister
Mr. Manmohan Adhikari 1995, Former Prime Minister Mr. Sher Bahadur Deuba in 1996, former King Gyanendra in 2002, 2005, Former Crown Prince Paras in 2004, Former Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Mr. K. P. Oli in 2006, Former Prime Minister Mr. Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda” in 2008.
From the Chinese side:
Late Premier Zhou Enlal in 1957 and 1960, Late Deng Xiaoping in 1978 (in his capacity as Vice Premier), Former Premier Mr. Zhou Ziyang in 1981, Former President Mr. Li Xiannian in 1984, Former Premier Mr. Li Peng in 1989, Former President Mr. Jiang Zemin in 1996, Former Premier Mr. Zhu Rongji in 2001, Chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative conference Mr. Jia Qinglin in 2003, Foreign Minister Mr. Li Zhaoxing in 2006 State Councilor Mr. Tang Jiaxuan in 2006, Deputy Speaker of National People’s Congress Mr. Li Tieying in 2007 , Foreign Minister Mr. Yang Jeichi in December 2008.
Undoubtedly, these high- level visits and other several official visits have contributed to further consolidation of the bilateral relations existing between the two countries. In addition, another area of increased interactions that is taking place of late is the people to people level contacts. Regular visits of Chinese business men, entrepreneurs, industrialists and tourists are on the rise.
Bilateral economic and other cooperation:
Late Chinese Premier Zhau Enlali in 1957 had pointed out: “National economic development was an essential means of safeguarding national independence. China would be willing to aid Nepal within its capacities.” Needless to say, China has been not only our precious and most reliable neighbor but also a valued partner in our socio-economic development efforts. It has helped us in the development of many vital infrastructures. Chinese assistance in Nepal which began from 1963 has recorded steady growth ever since. Such a cooperation and assistance ranges from infrastructure, industries, health, Communication, transport, water resources, scholarship and training and many more other important areas. While sparing myself from presenting details of every project, I would like to list below some of the major projects, completed and ongoing, which I was able to obtain from various available sources:
Arniko Highway 104 Km, Kathmandu Ring Road 27 Km, Kathmandu- Bhaktapur Road 13 Km, Prithvi Highway 174 Km, Narayanghat-Mugling Road, Kajhuwa-Gorkha-Road 24 Km, Kathmandu-Bhaktapur Trolly Bus 14 Km, Pokhara-Baglung Road 65 Km, Seti River Bridge at Pokhara are some of the valuable infrastructure projects which have helped us considerably to improve our transport networks.
Similarly, China has been providing us help and assistance in developing industries to help us become self reliant. Several industries in the capital city Kathmandu and outside have been established with her assistance which includes, among others, as per the available source of information:
Bansbari Leather and Shoe Factory , Hetauda Cotton Textile Mills, Harisidhi Brick Factory, Bhaktapur Brick Factory, Industrial Gloves and Apron Manufacturing, Bhrikuti Paper Mills, and Lumbini Sugar Mills. Although many of these important industries have been closed down, unfortunately, for example the famous Baansbari shoe factory they once formed the back bone of our industrial development endeavors.
This is another area of potential bilateral cooperation, given the rapid industrialization drive of China in Tibet autonomous region and the tremendous hydropower generation prospect in Nepal. In fact considerable interests have already been evinced by Chinese entrepreneurs and frequent visits of the experts teams have taken place to gain on the ground insight. Earlier, according to available source of information, China has developed the Sunkoshi Hydroelectricity Plant and Transmission, Pokhara Water Conservancy and Irrigation Project. It is hoped that hydroelectricity development could be yet another area of future public private cooperation between the two countries, thereby bringing enormous economic benefits for people of both countries.
Health and Sports:
B.P. Koirala Memorial Cancer Hospital, Bharatpur Civil Service Hospital, Sports Complexes at Kathmandu and Lalitpur, Sports Facilities for the 8th South Asian Games, Repair of Lighting System in the Sports Complex, are the cooperation received, as per available source of information.
Other important Chinese cooperation as per the available source of information include; National Trading Complex Warehouse at Kathmandu and Birgunj, City Hall in Kathmandu, Birendra international Convention Centre, Consolidating Seti River Bridge in Pokhara , a three-month arch bridge training course for 15 Nepalese engineers, Pokhara Sedimentation Pond Provision for the Television Truck for NTV, Mobile X-Ray Machine for Birgunj Dry port Customs Office, Equipment for the Parliament Secretariat, Feasibility study of a Research Centre for Nepal Trust for Nature Conservation, Nepal Television Metro Channel Station, Expansion and Improvement Installation of Optical Fibre along the Araniko Highway.
Some ongoing Projects:
Syafrubesi-Rasuagadhi Road, An Outer Ring Road in the Kathmandu Valley, Polytechnic Institute in Banepa ,National Ayurvedic Research and Training Institute.
According to the available source of information, China has been providing 100 scholarships annually to Nepalese students to study in China. Government of Nepal appreciates the Chinese assistance in the field of education. Many Nepalese have found China as an attractive destination for higher studies, particularly in medical sciences. This has helped Nepal to meet the ever- increasing demand for technical manpower in the country. It has also contributed to promoting understanding and appreciation of each other’s culture and tradition. China is agreed to increase more scholarships for Nepalese students.
I have tried to touch upon some of the major aspects and areas of our bilateral relations above. I admit there may have been many other important areas of cooperation that may have escaped my notice. Nepal is in the midst of completing the historic peace process and the writing of a new constitution for a peaceful, inclusive, prosperous and democratic new Nepal. Such a comprehensive vision for new Nepal is possible only in a situation of rapid economic and social transformation in the country with the help of her friends and neighbors. It is everybody’s knowledge that China has always been in favor of peace, stability and prosperity of Nepal. The traditional ties of friendship that have been forged by our wise leaders of both countries for centuries and also in recent times and the tremendous goodwill that exists between the two countries and the people, therefore, need to be nurtured and strengthened by injecting new vigor and vitality so as to expand them further into areas of trade, investment, commerce tourism, water resources and many more other mutually beneficial areas. Economically resurgent China and its readiness to help must therefore be taken as an opportunity and seized by Nepal without further delay. Here lies the wisdom, leadership and vision of our political leaders who should forge political consensus and move united to reap the benefits of these very cordial relations in the days ahead.
The recent of Foreign Minister Sujata Koirala, she had discussed on the Construction of a dry port zone in Tatopani, a special economic zone in Paanchakhal, assistance to set up clean energy project, extension of Chinese rail to Nepal’s border and duty free access to 497 Nepali products in the Chinese market. During her visit to China she had also discussed Kathmandu Valley outer ring road, a forestry university in Rampur, Chitwan. She met her counterpart Yang Jiechi and other Chinese officials. It is said that China was very positive on these issues and China has also agreed for the construction of 3 overhead bridges in different places of Kathmandu.
# An article penned by the author and published in the “Friendship-a Journal of Nepal-China Studies”, in its October, 2009 issue. The article is still relevant and thus presented in the larger interest of the readers (who want to study Nepal-China relations in depth) both within and without: The original title of this article has been changed. Thanks the author and the Friendship Journal. Ed.