Belt and Road Forum's joint statement lifts Nepal-China railroad hopes

Published On: April 29, 2019 06:30 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, April 29: Foreign policy experts have said that the incorporation of Nepal-China Trans-Himalayan Multi-Dimensional Connectivity Network including Nepal-China cross-border railway in the joint communique issued after the conclusion of the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation is a major achievement for Nepal.

The experts maintain that the latest development makes certain that Chinese railway and multi-dimensional connectivity will eventually be achieved.

“Although this is not the result of our bilateral negotiation, the fact that the joint communiqué incorporates these two projects is certainly a positive thing for Nepal. This has removed uncertainty that persisted in building cross-border railway network with China,” said former Foreign Minister Ramesh Nath Pandey.

However, much depends on the Nepali side how it will act further to ensure execution of these two expensive projects. Experts argue that the Nepali side now requires to demonstrate requisite political will to execute the projects expeditiously.

Nepal signed up for BRI in May 2017. Subsequently, two separate committees led by foreign and finance secretary identified nearly three dozen projects to be developed under BRI. But with the sluggish progress in negotiations in the following months, Chinese side had suggested to the Nepali side to bring down the list to single digit.

While Nepal had long been negotiating with China to develop cross-country railway line to end Nepal's sole dependence with India, the two countries agreed to set up Trans-Himalayan Multi-Dimensional Connectivity Network during Prime Minister KP Oli's visit to China in June 2018.

“This shows that China is keen to support Nepal in the projects Nepal desires. Given that China has resources, technology and ability to execute the project in high pace, onus now lies on the Nepali political leadership to expedite their execution,” argued a retired Nepali ambassador, asking not to be named.

In the joint communiqué titled " Belt and Road Co-operation: Shaping a Brighter Shared Future" issued Saturday evening in Beijing, Nepal-China Trans-Himalayan Multi-Dimensional Connectivity Network including Nepal-China cross-border railway has been incorporated among the 64 projects identified as a part of the BRI.

Nepali officials are hopeful that the declaration will create a conducive environment for expediting the implementation of projects in Nepal under the framework of Belt and Road Initiative.

Head of the states of nearly 40 countries participated in the two-day long BRI forum. "In the Joint Communiqué, the leaders vowed to support, among other things, policies and activities that help land-locked countries transform into land-linked ones, including by strengthening connectivity and co-operation on transit arrangements and infrastructure," said a press release issued by Nepali embassy in Beijing on Saturday evening.

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