Kathmandu : World has become a global village in the sense of growing connectivity and development. However, there are disparities among countries. Some of the countries has reached to the apex of prosperity whereas, other countries are suffering from acute penury. Developing countries like Nepal has its own problems. As a landlocked country it has been facing many obstacles during natural calamities like earthquake and frequently imposing economic blockade by southern neighbor India.
Single country dependency pushed Nepal to vulnerable condition during devastating earthquake 2015 and Indian economic blockade. Since Nepal had to seek an alternative means of connectivity and investment, Chinese President XI, Jinping’s dream mega project under the name of OBOR as the continuation of Silk Road initiated by Han dynasty came to existence proposing to connect China with Asian and African countries through infrastructure development and investment. Nepal as a close neighbor officially joined OBOR in December 2014 after 7 months of the official proclamation of it in China on 14 may, 2013.
Known from different names like Silk Road Projects, OBOR, and BRI , the highly ambitious project has been considered as the means of meeting the challenges of the time and rescuing developing countries like Nepal, Pakistan, Sirilanka, Maldives, Afghanistan, Bhutan, and Eurasian countries from destabilized economy.
Since Nepal wanted to end single country dependency and develop its infrastructure, her involvement in BRI will be of great importance. China’s ambition to connect Asia with Africa and Europe via land, maritime networks through six corridors may not only benefit it but also the partner countries through regional integration, economic growth , infrastructure development and investment . China is the second biggest trade partner of Nepal and there are only two trade routes, Tatopani and Rasuwagahdhi, Kerung at present but no progress has been seen to open more routes 12 routes already agreed and signed both coutries.
The proposed rail routes like Kerung Kathmandu, Kathmandu Pokhara, and Kathmandu Lumbini will change the overall economic scenario of Nepal if projects are launched and accomplished in determined time.
It is obvious that through the proposed projects not only the relations between the two countries but also people to people relation will be further intensified. At this opportunity I would like to recall our Prime minister KP Sharma Oli’s official visit and signing of Trans Himalayan Multipurpose projects as well as president Viddy Devi Bhandari’s state visit to China during this period. Trans-Himalayan multi-dimensional connectivity network and Nepal-China cross border railways are the most significant two projects being incorporated under BRI.
To our pride Chinese President Xi Jinping’s brief but historic visit of Nepal in 2019 not only opened a new era of understanding and cooperation between the two countries but also got inspiration and courage from his promise , “China would help Nepal realize its dream of transforming itself from a landlocked country to a land-linked country,”. During his Nepal stay he witnessed the signing of 20 agreements on including trans-Himalayan connectivity, security, energy, trade, and economic assistance.
Prior to this our president paid an state visit to China with a high level delegation and participated the second BRI Summit on March 2019. During her visit projects like 3 roads, 2 hydroelectricity plants, 1 cross border railways, 1 cross border transmission line and 1 technical institution in the name of late peoples leader Madan Kumar Bhandari, had been presented before China.
I am hopeful that if we sincerely implement the agreements made between the two countries, they can be a game-changer in our economic growth and development. It will obviously end Nepal’s ‘India-lockedness as well dependency.
So far its impact in other south Asian countries is concerned, without hesitation I would like to mention that countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Vietnam etc. For South Asian countries BRI will be of great significance because China shares a 5,000-kilometre border with five South Asian countries – Nepal, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan. Some of the BRI projects have got momentum like The China Pakistan Economic Corridor, the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) linking BCIM to Lhasa and Kathmandu, and the Qinghai-Tibet Railway connecting to Kerung, Kathmandu and Lumbini. These projects will certainly change the overall standard of people of the concerned countries.
Nepal’s development is possible through agriculture development, hydropower generation, and tourism industry. All of them need transportation access. Nepalese farmers faced a severe loss during current pandemic of COVID-19. Their agriculture products could not get market due to transportation problem whereas, tons of the same products entered Nepal from India. Nepalese farmers remained compelled to dump their products whereas, government had to import from India. had there been easy connectivity, Nepalese products could have been sent to third country as well.
There are challenges behind the execution of projects that may bring a drastic change. Nepal is under a pressure to launch the same sort of mega project but Nepal has to move forth without delay for the implementation of the agreed projects. The present government is keen to initiate them as soon as possible. The most essential component for the successful completion of such historic projects is national unity and consensus. To our pride Nepal and her people are unanimous to launch BRI projects. Therefore , I would like to advise all to be sincere in implementation and completion of the projects. They will bring us together and provide us a good opportunity to share our common interest and experience. United we can material our dream. Once again, I would like to thank the organizer for providing me this opportunity and expect the same programs in the days to come so that we can be more open and positive.
- Author is Chairman – Center for Asian Policy Research & Studies, MD & Editor-In-Chief, ABC News Television, Kathmandu
- This paper has presented On International conference on the Belt &Road Intitative 2020, organized by Pakistan-China Institute in 8 July 2020 via virtual platform. In this conference Key note Speaker is AI Ping, former vice minister of china and member of CPCC among 9 countries speaker and participants.
8 July 2020,