On the occasion of Prachanda's visit to Beijing, Nepal rejects China's Global Security Initiative while moving on with its border rail proposal.
During Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda's visit to Beijing on Tuesday, Nepal seemed to reject Chinese proposals for it to join President Xi Jinping's Global Security Initiative (GSI), but it also promised to move on with ambitious cross-border connectivity projects.
The two sides produced a lengthy joint statement that included several border infrastructure initiatives but left out the GSI.
According to the statement, "The Nepali side supports the Global Development Initiative (GDI) proposed by China, and will consider joining the Group of Friends of the GDI." It also referred to the 2017 agreement between the two parties to work together on Mr. Xi's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), stating that they would "accelerate consultations to finalise the text" on a BRI implementation plan that had previously been postponed "at an early date."
China's foreign policy will be supported by Mr. Xi's three major new programmes, the Global Civilization Initiative (GCI), the Global Development Initiative (GDI), and the Global Sustainability Initiative (GSI).
The balancing act in Kathmandu
Kathmandu, which has made it clear it will engage with China on development projects but take a cautious approach on issues linked to security cooperation, struck a delicate balance in the joint statement.
In regards to Tibet, Nepal did reiterate its allegiance to China and said that "it will never allow any separatist activities against China on Nepal's soil." China, on the other hand, stated that it "strongly supports Nepal in maintaining its independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity."
The joint statement described the breadth and depth of connection projects Nepal and China are engaged in, including the main cross-border railway from Lhasa to Kathmandu, which was previously written off as impractical by most observers.
According to the proposal, they "agreed to strengthen connectivity in such areas as ports, roads, railways, airways, and grids in an orderly manner" and "jointly build the Trans-Himalayan Multi-Dimensional Connectivity Network".
They agreed to keep in touch for the quick opening of further border ports including Chentang-Kimathanka and Riwu-Olangchungola and applauded the opening of the Lizi-Nechung port and the reopening of the Zhangmu-Khasa port to passenger services.
Beijing declared its support for the start of the fourth stage of the Araniko Highway maintenance project and stated that when the demolition work was finished, the Syaphrubesi-Rasuwagadhi Highway will be repaired. Additionally, a deal was made to start building a 220 KV cross-border power transmission line between Jilong, Keyrung, and Rasuwagadhi, Chile.
In addition, the joint statement "expressed satisfaction over the progress of the Jilong/Keyrung-Kathmandu Cross-Border Railway Feasibility Study." Beijing will soon launch a programme to train Nepali railway personnel, and the 8th Working Meeting on China-Nepal Railway Cooperation will soon take place.
In keeping with Beijing's "panda diplomacy," Nepal also said during the visit that it will give China a pair of unicorn rhinos as "a gift from the government and people of Nepal to the government and people of China as a symbol for the long-lasting friendship between the two countries."