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Posted at: Oct 14, 2019, 7:07 AM; last updated: Oct 14, 2019, 10:17 AM (IST)ECONOMIC BOUNTY

Xi pledges $500m investment in Nepal

Two countries ink 20 agreements to bolster bilateral ties

Tribune News Service
New Delhi, October 13

China failed to achieve its political aim of signing an extradition treaty with Nepal, but made major economic inroads during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Kathmandu.

In a meeting with Nepal Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, Xi promised investments worth $500 million (Nepalese Rs 56 billion) in two years, bulk of it for a highway connecting both countries which was badly damaged in the 2015 Gorkha earthquake. The transit point between Nepal and China was as a result opened only this year, but still requires extensive repairs.

A statement issued by the Nepal’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not mention the extradition treaty that would have enabled China to get back Tibetans transiting through Nepal on the way to India.

The issue of a China-Hong Kong extradition treaty had flared up the ongoing civil unrest and is also opposed by a large section of the Nepalese society.

The two sides nevertheless signed 20 agreements during the first visit by a Chinese President in two decades in areas such as connectivity, security, border management, trade, tourism and education.

A deal that evoked great interest and commentary was feasibility study of a China-Nepal cross-border railway project. The project has been on the drawing board for a couple of years amid concerns over its extraordinarily high cost and low revenue earning potential.

In fact, a railway into Nepal will take time since China’s railway currently ends 35 km from the border. India is already engaged in extending railway lines into Nepal on plain terrain and in a more populous area which translates into commercial viability of the projects. India has also activated an oil pipeline to Nepal thus ensuring against a similar Chinese project from the other side of the border.

Xi’s visit also brings the promise of greater tourism to Nepal as Beijing has designated it as an approved destination for Chinese tourists.

“We want to support Nepal in realising its dream to become a land-linked country from the landlocked country,” the Chinese President said.

Xi also held talks with Nepal Communist Party’s co-chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda and the two leaders agreed to reinforce inter-party exchanges.

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