Chinese President Xi in Nepal
After Chennai Connect, the second informal summit at Mahabalipuram, India, the Chinese President visited Nepal. This is the first visit by a Chinese President in 22 years. The trade of the land locked Himalayan nation is dominated by the Indian sub-continent. Increasing its connectivity with Beijing it now seeks to end Indian dominance in its trade.
Key take-away of the visit
- A 70-km rail link to be constructed as a part of China’s Belt and Road initiative. The link will connect Kathmandu, the capital city with Gyiron in Tibet.
- 28-km Kerung-KAthmandu road tunnel is also proposed to halve the distance between Kathmandu and Chinese border. Nepal believes that these road projects are alternates to the trade routes through India. In 2015 and 2016, Nepal faced acute shortage of fuel and medicine due to the blockade along its border in India.
- Nepal and China signed around 20 deals covering water supply, trade, traditional medicines.
- The Chinese President pledged Rs 56 billion assistance to Kathmandu
- President Xi promised to replenish the Arniko highway that links Kathmandu with Tatopani transit point. The highway was badly damaged in 2015 earthquake.
- China is to provide further support in the post-quake reconstruction to promote “Visit Nepal Year 2020”. The program will support education and urban development in the country.
Both India and China are trying to influence Nepal, the natural buffer between them. India accounts to nearly two-thirds of Nepal’s trade and fuel supply.