Nepal’s Prime Minister, Pushpa Kamal Dahal, recently concluded his week-long visit to China, which was expected to address critical issues such as Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects, cross-border energy trade, and past agreements. However, the agreements signed during this visit did not cover these key areas. Instead, they focused on various other aspects of bilateral cooperation.
Delegation-Level Talks and Joint Communiqué
The agreements were the result of delegation-level talks between Prime Minister Dahal and Chinese Premier Li Qiang. While some of the expectations and commitments made by the Nepali Prime Minister were not included in the agreements, they may find their way into a joint communiqué.
Positive Tone and Bilateral Relations
The discussions comprehensively reviewed the state of bilateral relations, expressing satisfaction with the close ties between the two nations. The emphasis was on strengthening economic, trade, and people-to-people cooperation.
Interestingly, there was no official statement from the Chinese side regarding the meetings and agreements signed during the visit.
Agreements and Memorandums of Understanding
Here are the key agreements and MoUs signed during the visit:
- MoU on cooperation between China’s National Development and Reform Commission and Nepal’s National Planning Commission.
- MoU on enhancing cooperation on the digital economy.
- MoU on cooperation between China’s National Development and Reform Commission and Nepal’s Ministry of Forestry and Environment for green and low carbon development.
- Agreements on cooperation for the development of agriculture, livestock, and fisheries.
- Formation of a joint technical working group to review and amend the China-Nepal Trade and Payment Agreement signed in 1981.
- Protocol of Phytosanitary Requirements for Export of Plant-derived Medicinal Materials for Chinese Medicine from Nepal.
- Agreement between the Chinese Department of Press and Publication and the Ministry of Culture, Tourism, and Civil Aviation to translate and publish classical texts.
- Exchange of the MoU on Production and Living Materials for the Northern Hilly Region of Nepal, originally signed six years ago.
- Cooperation in the fields of science, technology, and innovation between Nepal’s Ministry of Education, Science and Technology and China’s Ministry of Science and Technology.
- MoU on disaster materials, human resources, and construction of the Hilsa-Simkot road.
- Agreement on the construction of the Nepal-China Power Grid Interconnection Project (Chimile-Kerung), a 220 kV cross-border transmission line, funded by China.
Critical Voices and Geopolitical Balancing Act
Despite these agreements, some critics argue that Nepal is struggling to balance its geopolitical interests, particularly in maintaining a non-aligned foreign policy. Strengthening diplomatic capabilities and adhering to non-alignment are seen as crucial for Nepal’s international relations.