KATHMANDU, April 22: China has expressed its dissatisfaction over the government’s recent decision to build the Budhi Gandaki Hydroelectric Project itself by scrapping the project awarded earlier to a Chinese contractor.
Speaking at a virtual press meet organized by the Embassy of China in Kathmandu on Thursday, Chinese Ambassador to Nepal Hou Yanqui said the policy inconsistency of the Government of Nepal has put Chinese investors into trouble. “As the investors concerned also have to spend a long time preparing while looking to invest for a big project, the frequent change in the government’s policy put all their efforts in vain,” she said.
Two weeks ago, the government revoked the license issued to the Chinese state-owned China Gezhouba Group Corporation (CGGC) for the development of the Budhi Gandaki Hydropower Project. The government also decided to build the 1200 MW reservoir-based nation-pride project through national investment.
The Chinese envoy also expressed her concern about the authorities delaying on payment to Chinese companies assigned to work on development projects. Lack of the government’s initiatives, the issues related to project site clearance that include land acquisition and cutting down trees, among others, have also lengthened the time of the construction work, she added.
When selecting and implementing specific projects, both governments and enterprises are required to follow the principles of openness, transparency and friendly consultation with each other. Ambassador Hou said that China’s support to Nepal under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) will never change no matter how the political situation in Nepal unfolds.
The Chinese envoy also refuted allegations that China had enforced a ‘soft blockade’ to Nepal to conduct bilateral trade through land routes. “The total volume of trade between China and Nepal increased 67 percent and reached USD 1.977 billion in 2021 while Nepal’s export to China also increased by 63 percent during the period,” she added.
Ambassador Hou stressed on the need for the Nepali side to improve efficiency of loading and unloading and further improve the conditions of customs clearance to promote bilateral trade. “The Chinese side attaches great importance to the desire of the Nepali side to resume export to China through land ports,” she said.
The envoy also underlined that the Chinese side is willing to help Nepal in cross-border power trade. “As Nepal’s electricity production gradually turns to surplus, China is willing to work together with Nepal to complement each side’s advantages, actively promote the power grid interconnection, and build a new channel for Nepal’s power export,” she further said.
At a time when Nepal is struggling to improve its external macroeconomic indicators, the Chinese envoy said it is an outcome of the slow recovery of the global economy in the post-COVID-19 period. Highlighting the need to implement the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects in Nepal, Yanqui said BRI has never been a "geopolitical strategy", but a road of development that helps countries to move along the road, especially developing countries, to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and promote common development and prosperity.