Nepal hopes for finance, railway deal with China during Xi visit

As Xi becomes the first Chinese President in 22 years to visit Nepal, the Himalayan state rolled out the red carpet on Jinping’s arrival. President Bidhya Devi Bhandari received him at Kathmandu airport.

Jinping’s visit to Nepal is at the time when Asian geopolitics is taking a sharp turn and the Himalayan kingdom is in wake of lessening its dependence on New Delhi.

The Chinese president is expected to use his time in Kathmandu to push Beijing’s controversial Belt and Road infrastructure projects, which India refused to join. Another reason for New Delhi to refuse is China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) which crosses through the Pakistan Occupied Kashmir.

As Xi Jinping is ready to meet Nepal Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli, both the sides are expected to sign a deal expanding a railway link between the Himalayan nation and Autonomous Tibet.

Xi arrived in Nepal after an informal meet with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“An agreement for the preparation of a detailed project report for the railway link is expected to be signed after the prime minister’s meeting with President Xi on Sunday,” One of PM Oli’s top aid, Bhattarai told media.

The report will contain cost estimates, with financing and construction models to be decided, officials said.

Currently, New Delhi accounts for nearly two-thirds of Nepal’s trade and is the sole source of its fuel supply. After a prolonged blockade of its border crossings with India in 2015 and 2016 left Nepal short of fuel and medicine for months.

Asian giants India and China have both sought to woo Nepal and have poured in aid and infrastructure investment.

Beijing has helped build or upgrade highways, airports and power plants in Nepal under the Belt and Road infrastructure drive – a string of ports, railways, roads, bridges and other investments tying China to Europe via central and southern Asia.

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Kootneeti Team

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Akshat Verma

Akshat Verma is an Associate Editor at The Kootneeti. His area of interest includes India-Pakistan-China relations and Indian Foreign Policy. He can be reached at team@thekootneeti.com || Twitter: @akshat_ver

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