Sundar nath Bhattarai
Vice Chair, China Study center, nepal
Sixty years of good neighborhood of Nepal with China, since the establishment of diplomatic relations between them in August 1955, has been the period of ever deepening intimacy, mutual support and cooperation. The intimaterelationship between these two countries, having different political ideologies and geographical and physiogno mialasymmetries is, often described as exemplary ii the contemporary political context.
Traditionally, Nepal and China are bound by close ties of profound socio cultural and religious affinities since ancient times, which, in due course of history, were strengthened consecutively by important bilateral historical intercourses and events.
Today, it has expanded into governmental, non-governmental and people- to-people levels encompassing all conceivable areas including arts, cUlture, literature, education, sports, enhanced trade, aviation, infrastructure development and economy in a comprehensive manner. Above all, China’s unequivocal support toNepal’s independence, sovereignty, and integrity andmutual respect, trust andconfidence between them have remained to be the hallmark of paramount importance in Nepal-China relations.
Thanks to the farsightedness of pioneers like King Maheiidra, Tanka Prasad Acharya and B. P. Koirala, who are dearly remembered by all Nepalese compatriots for their acumen in nurturing Nepal-China Relations and bringing it to the present height for which all of us are proud enough and indebted to their everlasting contributions. Tanka Prasad Acharya was the first Nepalese Prime Minister to visit China in 1956, one year after the establishment of diplomatic relation during which the first agreement on economic cooperation with China was signed. B. P. Koirala visited China in 1960 and was signatory together with Premier Zhou Enlai to Nepal-China Boundary Agreement. He was also a signatory to the Peace and Friendship Treaty with China during the Premier Zhou’s visit to Nepal later in 1960. Contributions’made by both the Prime Ministers in promoting Nepal-China relations were constructive and appreciable.King Mahendra, in particular, is always remembered for his famous public statement: “communism does not travel by taxi” which he made way back in l960s, to pacify the highly orchestrated criticism by India and others against the construction of Kathmandu-Kodarihighway, which is serving us till today as a very congenial link for various intercourses between Nepal and China. Moreover, in all essence, one may believe it or not, that the very establishment of diplomatic relations between Nepal and China in 1955 which we are, at present, celebrating its diamond jubilee anniversary, and the construction of the Kodari highway, which followed after a decade, of it, were both maneuvered and achieved due to late King Mahendra’s discreet move and resolute will, are among the strong factors in safeguarding Nepal’s independent positioti The effort made by Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala to open up second measure cross border route of Rasuwa-Syaprubesi was also noteworthy and commendable.
The importance of more opening up with China through more such linkages, some of which are already envisaged and are in the pipelines, are becoming more urgent,especially in view of the situation as of today when Nepal was subsequently subjected to economic blockade as throttling as the one which is imposed on it at present.
Nepal’s relations with China, therefore, bear special strategic significance as it is directly and closely linked with the question of security not only of Nepal alone but also of the region as a whole. Nepal-China relations has always received constant care and attention and was nurtured by the top leadership of China starting from China’s first generation of leadership of Chairman Mao Zedong and throughout that of Deng Xiao Ping, Jiang Zemin, Hu Jintao and the present fifth generation leadership of president Xi Jinping. Leaders like Premier Zhou Enlai and Marshal Chen Yi were well-wishers of Nepal and are in record of having made precious statements in support of Nepal’s independence and sovereignty for which they are ever remembered by the Nepalese people with high respect. Premier Zhou has described Nepal- China relations as “Blood-ties”; and Marshal Chen Yi is often quoted as having said that, “China will side with Nepal in case of any foolhardy attempt to attack Nepal by foreign army.” On the Nepalese side,at the highest echelon at that time, was late King Birendra whose constant endeavoursto heighten Nepal-China relations were amply demonstrated by his record number of visits to China which were as many as ten times, is also worthy of remembrance and praise in the annul of history of Nepal-China relations.
Among Nepal’s present-day leadership, President Ram BaranYadavand Vice President ParmanandaJha, Prime Ministers and leaders of various parties have played their respective roles in contributing towards further strengthening Nepal-China relations. China’s generous economic assistance to and cooperation with Nepal from the very beginningof the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1955, has been, to a great extent, helpful to Nepal throughout to pursue its economic development. Nepal is highly obliged to China for its constanta well as recent generous assistance, including its extensive rescue operations and gesture of substantial pledge for Nepal’s post earthquake reconstruction and announcement of quadrupling of its annual financial assistance beginning this year.
The ever ascending global prominence of China together with the harmonious and cooperative overtures of present- day fifth-generation leadership of President Xi Jinpinghas further strengthened Nepal’s confidence in China and its pledge for brighter future for peaceful and sustainable development in bilateral, regional as well as global context. Nepal has noted with admiration the stupendous efforts with which China is forging ahead with its massive drive for further reforms and opening up aimed at the realization of the “Chinese dream” of rejuvenating its society and the achievement of its goal to develop it as a modern, prosperous, strong, culturally advanced, democratic and harmonious society by the middle of the century.It further aims at doubling its per-capita income by 2020 and quadrupling it by 2049, while tackling problems ranging from income disparity and corruption. Nepal has unreserved support and best wishes for China’s success in all of its endeavors.
We have all witnessed how China has achieved miraculous progress, within a short span of time, since the foundation of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, transforming itself from an impoverished state to the present state of a developed nation, emerging as the world’s second largest economy. China’s annual rate of growth which was at an average rate of 10% for past 30 years is expected to remain at about 8% for another 12 to 15 years. Even if the growth continues at this rate, China is expected to overtake the US economy by 2018 and its economy to be three times bigger than the US economy by 2040.
The initial two years of Chinese new leadership of the fifth generation under President Xi,at the helm of power, has already set a good start with solid layout of a base of future growth of stronger friendship and cooperation with the world’s major countries, itsn.ighbors and other developing countries and the conduct of multilateral diplomacy.
China’s successful bidding for founding BRICS Development Bank is considered to be an important achievement of China in its lead for a just and equitable system of global finance, where developing countries will have their “say” to prevail.
The most impressive project of the new leadership of China is its ‘belt and road” initiative for which it has already set aside 40 billion US dollars. The silk road economic belt and its Oceanic- equivalent, the maritime silk road, tends to ensure the prospect of a wide range of connectivity and greater linkages between China and regions of South East Asia, South-Asia, East-Africa, Middle-East and Europe. It is expected to create an environment of meaningful and deeper cooperation in intra regional and inter-regional perspective in a wider scale.
The establishment of AIIB, Asian Infrastructure Development Bank, is another major initiative of the new leadership of China in the Asian context which will greatly and directly benefit the countries of Asia in particular, for their infrastructure development, Nepal is a founding member of the Bank and is looking forward to benefit from it to great extent.
China’s positive role and active participation in various Asian regional organizations like APEC, ASEAN, SCO, CICA and others like BOAO, Kunming Initiatives, THDCF (Trans Himalaya Development Cooperation Foundation) and SAARC are indicative of China’s focus on Asian neighborhood and the lead role it intends to play.
Nepal-China relations have better prospect of becoming much closer, stronger, more extensive and multifaceted in the days ahead. For this, officials of both the countries have to develop more regular contacts and consultations at all levels and in all spheres and come out with comprehensive and concrete programmesof action for mutual cooperation.
Nepal should concentrate, in an effective way, on expanding air and land connectivities on a wider scale with China and pursue to deepen, in a comprehensive way, political, economic, social, cultural, and educational relations in governmental, non-governmental as well as people- to-people level. It may also be appropriate to move towards entering into a firm and close defense arrangement with China as per the demand of the time, especially in view
the recent trend and factors underlying tumultuous political and security situation prevailing in Nepal’s Southern neighborhood.
This unimaginable situation has compelled us to look out and ascertain alternative sources of supply of essential commodities of our daily needs and livelihood of the people. In this regard, China has once again come to extend, at this critical juncture, its helping hand again as ever before by supplying us the fuel as gift for initial cushion to cope with its chronic shortage and by agreeing to enter into a permanent commercial arrangements for its future supply, while assuring us to extend all necessary help as required by Nepal. It is also appreciative of China to agree to upgrade the conditions of six major cross- border routes existing between Nepal and China. Together with this, most welcome proposition is the extension of Chinese railway link from Shigatse to Kerung, which is under construction and is expected to be completed by 2020, in a five year period from now which is not long from a nation’s point of view, possibly along with pipeline, if feasible. This, when materialized, will bring about substantive change not only in Nepal-China trade pattern but will also cumulatively transform the geo-political environment, and, at the same time, contribute to enhance Nepal’s over-all standing in the region.
It is imperative for every Nepalese compatriot to learn a lesson from this critical ‘impasse’ and realize that China is a major factor for us with regard to the protection of our territorial integrity, sovereignty and political independence. We, should, therefore, firmly pursue the objective of consolidating our relations with China in a concrete and meaningful maimer so that we could achieve our perceived goal, which is not other than peace, progress and prosperity of our own, of the region and of the world as a whole. What we require is strong political will and unity among our political leadership and stakeholders and our perseverance to move ahead with determination, and with cognition of the fact that China is our next door neighbour, which is now, unlike before, a supreme regional power as well as a strong and effective global power, unequivocally supporting us at every instanceof our dire needs and national crisis as well as helping us incessantly in our efforts towards socio-economic development and preservation of our national independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity. We may remain confident, as we have every reason to believe, that China will continue to extend its full support to all our noble and sincere endeavours for a long time to come.
May this diamond jubilee celebration of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Nepal and China bind our two peoples together forever.
Long Live Nepal-China Relations.
Text courtesy: Friendship journal of Nepal and China studies published by China Study center, CSC, April 10, 2016: Thanks the author and Published: Ed.