Belt and Road Initiative Current Affairs - 2020

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.

Sri Lanka unveils South Asia’s tallest tower in Colombo

Sri Lanka unveiled a 350-metre-tall Lotus Tower which is now being dubbed as South Asia’s tallest tower in Colombo city. Though the tower is still under construction President of Sri Lanka Maithripala Sirisena decided to open the tower to public. As per the President, Lotus Tower is foreseen to be one of the significant landmarks and an epitome of island country’s culture, economy and development.

About ‘Lotus Tower’

It is the tallest tower in South Asia in the shape of a 356-meter lotus.

The tower costs more than $100 million. The 80% of costs incurred has been funded by China under the controversial Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

The 350-metre tall Lotus Tower has 17-storey and is located in Colombo. It comprises a hotel, a TV tower, restaurants, a mall, a telecommunications museum, and auditorium.

Sri Lanka and China signed the Lotus Tower agreement in 2012 to build the tower. As per the agreement China National Electronics Import and Export Corporation (CEIEC) was the general contractor.