At a time when a group of people is questioning Nepal’s decision joining the Belt and Road Initiative, arguing that BRI as a debt trap, President Bidya Devi Bhandari has expressed Nepal’ unflinching support to BRI.

During her first State visit to China, seven agreements were signed between Nepal and China in the presence of President Bhandari and President Xi.

Following the bilateral talks, President Bhandari and President Xi witnessed the signing of a total of 7 bilateral agreements between the two countries. The list of the agreements is as follow: Protocol to the Agreement on Transit Transport, Handover Certificate of Grant-Aid for the Repair and Reinforcement Project of the Existing China-aided Projects, Agreement on Cooperation and Mutual Administrative Assistance in Customs Matters, Memorandum of Understanding for Cooperation on Standardisation, Agreement on Economic and Technical Cooperation, Minutes of Meeting on Strengthening Assistance Cooperation in the Field of Livelihood in the Northern Region of Nepal and Agreement on Preventing Theft, Clandestine Excavation and Illicit Export-Import of Cultural Property.

At a time when Nepal is unable to easily access Ports in Southern neighbour, it is yet to see how Nepal manages the most difficult one.

“The Belt & Road Initiative is emerging as a key driver for poverty alleviation, employment generation, infrastructure building, and industrial transformation, and expressing the confidence that BRI will support the process of economic transformation in Nepal by expanding connectivity networks and supporting the country’s economic integration into the global market,” said president Bhandari.

The Second Belt and Road Forum concluded in Beijing with the release of a Joint Communiqué titled Belt and Road Co-operation: Shaping a Brighter Shared Future.

In the Joint Communiqué, the leaders from participating countries expressed their support to build on the progress already made in developing economic corridors and economic and trade co-operation zones in various countries, including the Nepal-China Trans-Himalayan Multi-Dimensional Connectivity Network and Nepal-China cross-border railway.

In the Joint Communiqué, the leaders vowed to support, among others, policies and activities that help land-locked countries transform into land-linked ones, including by strengthening connectivity and co-operation on transit arrangements and infrastructure. They also highlighted the importance of special and differential treatment in international trade for developing countries and reaffirmed their commitment to the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

She addressed the Leaders’ Roundtable of the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, expressing the view that the realisation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is possible only through enhanced co-operation among nations, the President stated that the objectives of development and prosperity as emphasised by the Belt and Road Initiative closely correspond to the Sustainable Development Goals for achieving transformative, inclusive and equitable development outcomes.

“The Belt and Road Initiative is emerging as a key driver for poverty alleviation, employment generation, infrastructure building and industrial transformation, and expressed the confidence that BRI will support the process of economic transformation in Nepal by expanding connectivity networks and supporting the country’s economic integration into the global market,” said president Bhandari.

“Nepal is a country of the high Himalayas. These high peaks serve as the heat sink during the summer and heat source in winter. Forming an integral part of the organically linked ecosystem, they are a common heritage of humanity.

Also, there is tremendous potential in developing clean energy in Nepal through hydropower. It can greatly contribute to the green development of Nepal as well as its neighbours,” said president Bhandari.

“It is a matter of happiness that Nepal, which was connected to the southern route of the ancient Silk Road, is now linked with Belt and Road Initiative. We believe that this Initiative will support the process of economic transformation of landlocked Nepal by expanding its connectivity networks and integrating its economy into the global market.

We expect that Belt and Road Initiative will greatly contribute to eradicating poverty, deepening and expanding trade, revolutionising industries, creating jobs and improving the living conditions of the people by increasing economic opportunities.”

There is a Chinese maxim: building roads is the first step towards prosperity. We are now creating the necessary foundations to realise the long-term goal of development and prosperity. In this context, we have laid primary emphasis on the development of Trans-Himalayan Multidimensional Connectivity Network under Belt and Road Initiative.

On Nepal China

She said that Nepal and China are neighbours and close friends, sharing a long history of friendship and cooperation. Geography, culture and traditions bind our two countries and peoples. “We are trustworthy friends. We have been faithfully conducting our relations on the basis of the ‘Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence’. Our relations are trouble-free,” said president Bhandari.

“Our commitment to One China policy is strong and unshakable. We have taken concrete measures to ensure that our territory is not used for any activities directed against China.”

Economic transformation is our priority agenda. We have to move fast to realise people’s ever exorbitant expectations. We do not have the luxury to waste time and energy. Prosperous Nepal, Happy Nepali is our national resolve. Our development efforts keep our people at the centre.

“China is our most trusted and reliable development partner. Government and the people of Nepal always appreciate the Government and the people of China for their continued support and assistance to the socio-economic development endeavours of Nepal.”

She said that BRI has opened the additional windows of opportunities for investment. I would like to urge Chinese entrepreneurs and businessmen to tap the opportunities.

“We welcome substantial Chinese investment in every sector. Protection of investment is our responsibility. We have accorded top priority to facilitate Chinese investment in Nepal.

“Government of Nepal has announced the year 2020 as Visit Nepal Year. We expect qualitative rise in the number of tourists from our next door neighbour,” China.

“If a large number of Chinese tourists can make their holidays in faraway lands, why cannot Nepal be made the most favoured destination? Chinese friends will not miss their homes while in Nepal. We need your cooperation for greater publicity of Nepal as a tourist destination. We welcome investment in tourism infrastructure.”

Despite a growing anti-BRI opinion in some section, President Bhandari has called Chinese investment for better and prosperous Nepal. It is yet to see how more Chinese investment is lured and how Nepal’s other immediate neighbour and other western countries view this.