Interviews

China-Nepal strategic partnership of cooperation, featuring ever-lasting friendship will continuously be pushed to new heights -Hou Yanqi, Chinese Amb

On May 26, the Chinese President Xi Jinping had a telephone conversation with President Bidya Devi Bhandari. What did the two leaders discuss? How are two countries cooperating to tackle the ongoing pandemic?

On May 26, Chinese President Xi Jinping had a telephone conversation with Nepali President Bidya Devi Bhandari. President Xi stressed the  importance of China-Nepal relations. He reiterated that China will support Nepal in safeguarding national sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity. China will continue to provide as much support as possible to Nepal in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. China believes the Nepali people will defeat the virus. 

President Bhandari congratulated the Communist Party of China (CPC) on its 100th anniversary of founding, stating that under the strong leadership of the CPC, China has made remarkable achievements in economic and social development. President Bhandari highly appreciated the Chinese concept of building a global community of health for all. The two heads of state reached a consensus on a wide range of issues, including advancing the Belt and Road Cooperation and firmly upholding multilateralism.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic last year, China and Nepal have supported each other in their fighting against the coronavirus, and carried out mutual cooperation, which has again highlighted the spirit of sticking together through thick and thin. The Chinese side offers much-needed medical supplies and equipment, including vaccines to Nepal and shares with the Nepali side experience in pandemic prevention, control, diagnosis and treatment, which has contributed in Nepal’s efforts to fight the pandemic. 

China has always been Nepal’s trustworthy and reliable partner in its development and fight against the pandemic. The telephone conversation between the two heads of state provided a clear direction in developing bilateral relations and anti-pandemic cooperation for years to come. I am confident that with personal guidance of the two heads of state, the China-Nepal strategic partnership of cooperation, featuring ever-lasting friendship for development and prosperity, will continuously be pushed to new heights. 

Chinese President Xi Jinping announced to provide one million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to Nepal under a grant assistance during the phone conversation. This is a welcome effort in times of great stress. What kind of support will China provide to developing countries, including Nepal?

In order to help Nepal fight the pandemic, China provided 800,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine under a grant assistance at the end of March this year. Despite high demands for the vaccines, both in China and around the world, President Xi Jinping personally announced an additional one million doses under a grant assistance. This not only reflects President Xi’s profound feeling toward Nepal and its people, but also reflects the view of the Chinese government and its people. This is an active practice to build a community of health for China and Nepal. 

The Chinese Embassy is working closely with the diplomatic and health authorities of Nepal and is working to deliver the vaccines to Nepal by early June. In addition, the Nepali side is also negotiating with a number of Chinese vaccine manufacturing companies to commercially procure vaccines. The Embassy and the relevant departments of the Chinese government are facilitating this process, and we hope to see positive progress soon.

Vaccines are considered by the World Health Organization to be one of the most effective ways to deal with the pandemic. Vaccines have become a scarce resource around the world. Under the personal command and deployment of President Xi Jinping, China has provided millions of doses of vaccines and other material assistance to countries around the world. Our contribution to building a global defense line against the pandemic and promoting a fair global distribution of vaccines has led us to support for countries and people in need around the world.

At a recent Global Health Summit, President Xi made five points on cooperation in fighting against the pandemic: To put people and their lives first; To follow science-based policies and ensure a coordinated and systemic response; To stick together and promote solidarity and cooperation; To uphold fairness and equity as we strive to close the immunization gap; and To address both the symptoms and root causes as we improve the governance system. 

President Xi Jinping also put forward five initiatives, pronouncing that China will provide an additional 3 billion US dollars in international aid over the next three years to support COVID-19 response and economic and social recovery in other developing countries; having already supplied 300 million doses of vaccines to the world, China will provide still more vaccines to the best of its ability; China supports its vaccine companies in transferring technologies to other developing countries and carrying out joint production with them, etc. China is a responsible country with words and deeds. These measures further implemented will effectively support developing countries in their fighting against the pandemic and restoring economic and social development, and provide a powerful boost to the construction of a global community of health for all.

Since the second wave of COVID-19 outbreak in Nepal, in addition to the federal government, the local governments of Xizang, Sichuan are also donating medical materials for Nepal. Is this a new form of cooperation? 

Confronted by the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, Nepal faces a shortage of medical supplies and has requested China for assistance. The Chinese government provided the much-needed medical materials under a grant assistance at the earliest, and overcame various difficulties, including the transportation, storage and handover of the delivered materials to Nepal as quickly as possible through land transportation and airlift. The Chinese central government has provided 3500 oxygen cylinders, 50 ventilators and a number of medical equipment like dozens of Ultrasound apparatus and anesthesia machines, and we will provide another batch of medical assistance, including 650 oxygen concentrators.

In addition to the central government, local governments of Xizang (Tibet), Sichuan, Yunnan and China Red Cross, Chinese companies in Nepal were also among the first to collect the much-needed medical materials for Nepal. According to incomplete statistics, those assistance includes 30000 liter liquid oxygen, 1.31 million medical masks, 800 oxygen cylinders, 300 oxygen concentrators and ventilators, antigen test kits, PPE. All of these activities have demonstrated the comprehensiveness and multi-dimensional nature of friendship between China and Nepal. I believe that the above-mentioned assistance will contribute to the Nepali people’s efforts to defeat the epidemic and bring work and life to normalcy at an early date.

It should be emphasized that all those anti-pandemic materials provided by the Chinese side are under grant assistance or voluntarily donated. And some media’s reporting on buying them at high prices from China are baseless. According to the agreement between two governments, the Chinese side would produce, procure and deliver the materials to the designated land or airport. The Nepali side is responsible for receiving and bringing them back to Nepal. Many of the materials were actually transported to Nepal by Chinese donors themselves. 

What impact does the pandemic have on the cooperation between Nepal and China under the framework of the BRI initiative? What is the latest development on this front?

In recent years, the China-Nepal cooperation under the framework of the BRI initiative has achieved fruitful results. In terms of connectivity, the first China-Nepal Working Group Meeting of Trade and Economy was held via video, and the Protocol on Implementing the Agreement on Transit and Transportation between China and Nepal has come into effect. The pre-feasibility study of the Tokha-Chhahare Tunnel Project has been completed. In terms of post-disaster reconstruction, the construction of the third phase of China Aid Araniko Highway Long-term Opening Maintenance Project has been started, China Aid Kathmandu Durbar High School Reconstruction Project has been completed and handed over to the Nepali side.

At present, there are more than 1500 Chinese employees and nearly 6000 Nepali employees with Chinese companies in Nepal. They are working hard to push ahead with relevant cooperation projects. Since the outbreak of the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic, dozens of Chinese workers and Nepali employees have been infected by the virus. The prohibitory orders instituted by the government have gravely impacted the flow of people and goods, and it has caused difficulties for some China-Nepal large-scale cooperation projects. However, the cooperation between China and Nepal under the framework of the BRI is long-term cooperation and will not be disrupted by the pandemic. 

We will steadily resume the projects, and we also look forward to providing more policy-level and other support to Nepal. We believe that with joint efforts from both sides, bilateral relations and cooperation in various fields will yield fruitful results in advancing Nepal’s economic and social development.

courtesy : Myrepublica

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