Prime Minister Oli says Nepal not falling into Chinese debt trap

Published On: January 28, 2019 12:06 PM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, Jan 28: Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli said on Monday that Nepal's participation in the China-initiated Belt and Road Initiative is in line with the country's national interests.

Addressing the handover ceremony of recently-completed Koteshwor-Kalanki stretch of the Ring Road in the capital, the prime minister said that Nepal will reap benefits from the China-initiated BRI.

"Even though there are some rumors, let us be clear that we are not going to fall into debt trap. Instead, the BRI is going to be beneficial for us. We are aware of our national priorities and interests. Nobody should be worried about it at all," Oli said amid the presence of Chinese Ambassador Hou Yanqi and diplomats from the Chinese embassy and high-ranking government officials.

The prime minister said that the two countries are going to identify projects under the BRI framework soon.

He said that the government is working closely with neighboring countries including China to enhance rail-road connectivity. The prime minister said that Nepal and China have been closely working to further deepen their ties in recent years.

"We have been enjoying a troubled-free and cordial relationship and such type of relationship is very rare around the world," Oli said while talking about ties between Nepal and China.

Oli said that the government has been working to further strengthen ties with neighboring countries China and India.

Recalling his visit to China in March 2016 during his first stint, the prime minister said that the two countries elevated their ties to greater heights since then.

"We want to further deepen multifaceted ties with China in coming days," he said adding that various China-supported projects including Kerung-Kathmandu Railway will go ahead as planned.

Amid the function held at Khumaltar in Lalitpur, Chinese Ambassador to Nepal Hou Yanqi handed over China-funded stretch of ring road to Prime Minister Oli.

The 10.5-km Koteshwor-Kalanki road expansion project started in 2013 by Shanghai Construction Group Co Ltd.  Upon completion of the road, it was handed over to Kathmandu Ring Road Improvement Project under the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport. The 10.5 kilometer stretch was expected to be completed in 2017.

However, its deadline was extended a couple of times due to different delays -- the 2015 earthquake and border blockade. In turn, the project's completion was initially extended to July 2018 and later to mid-December of 2018. China granted Nepal Rs. 5.13 billion to extend the road. The two countries had signed an agreement to expand ring road in 2013 when then Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao paid a brief official visit to Nepal in 2012.

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