Timely Project Implementation, Geopolitics Key to Nepal Becoming China’s Strategic Partner - Analyst

© CC0Mount Everest in Nepal
Mount Everest in Nepal - Sputnik International
New Delhi (Sputnik): Nepal nurtures realistic hopes of becoming a strategic partner of China, the world’s second-largest economy, but for that to happen, it will have to deliver on bilateral agreements as well as manage a balancing act in regional geopolitics, an author-cum-analyst has said.

The first visit by a Chinese President to Kathmandu after 23 years has just ended, and there is a belief on both sides that it signals a new beginning in their bilateral relationship. But Beijing remains concerned about Kathmandu's laxity on prior commitments, opines author-cum analyst Amish Raj Mulmi.

"More than two dozen agreements were signed, but the substance of (President) Xi's visit was clear. China prioritises Nepal... and has offered to partner closely with Nepal on connectivity. If the projects and agreements move forward as expected... it will free Nepal from its dependence on India for imports," Mulmi said in an article published in Indian daily the Hindustan Times, on Wednesday.

To back his argument, Mulmi cites the case of the 123 km-long Kerung-Kathmandu railway line, which will eventually be connected to the railway line from Tibet, as part of Beijing's ambitiously conceived multi-billion dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

In this case, he says, China and Nepal still have to decide and agree on the funding modality of the project.

China also has to build a road between Nepal's capital Kathmandu and the northern Rasuwagadhi district, which is on the Nepal-China border to facilitate easier movement. And finally, Nepal needs to get over the feeling that this railway project is complicated.  

Once completed, the railway will be part of the Trans-Himalayan Multi-dimensional Connectivity Network stretching from Tibet to Lumbini via Pokhara.

In addition to the matter of attaining greater connectivity, a second issue where he notes some apparent resistance is with the inking of a proposed bilateral extradition treaty between the two countries.

There was "talk of an extradition treaty being signed before Xi's visit, but at the end of his visit, the joint statement simply called for its early conclusion".

According to Mulmi, two factors -- Nepal's international refugee commitments and Kathmandu not updating the July 1953 friendship agreement with India – could be responsible for the postponement.

The mood in Kathmandu may be upbeat after President Xi's visit, but Nepal's leadership has been made aware that the "road ahead isn't as smooth as it seems", he concludes.

(Views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.)

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