BEIJING: Nepal Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli will be visiting China next week in the hope of confirming plans for a China-Nepal Economic Corridor under Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative.
Oli, who will be in China from June 19 to 24, would meet President Xi Jinping and other leaders during his visit, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a media briefing here.
Last weekend, India was the only member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation which refused to endorse the BRI during the SCO meet that was attended by PM Narendra Modi. Other members, like Russia, Pakistan and the Central Asian countries, had supported it.
The planned corridor would further reduce Nepal’s reliance on India and shift the balance of influence towards China in an area of military importance. Beijing also hopes to soften Indian resistance towards the BRI, either by persuasion or through pressure by creating major infrastructure in the neighbourhood. Geng said China and Nepal are comprehensive cooperative partners, enjoying generation-to-generation friendship and development of bilateral ties has been taking place with sound momentum.
Oli will also discuss ways to deepen political and economic cooperation as well as cooperation in infrastructure, post-disaster rebuilding, in cultural fields, and how to further elevate bilateral ties, he said. This is Oli’s first visit to China after his recent re-election. He earlier visited China during his brief tenure as prime minister in 2016. At the time, Oli, who is considered pro-Beijing, had widened China-Nepal ties by signing the transit trade treaty with China to reduce the dependence of his landlocked country on India at the height of the Madhesi agitation and had sought expansion of road links through Tibet besides extension of China’s railway network to Nepal through the Himalayas.
However, since his reelection, he made his first foreign visit to India promising to follow a more balanced policy between India and China. His visit was followed by a high-profile visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Nepal highlighting steady development in relations between the two countries.