April 13, 2024, Saturday
Nepal 1:37:26 pm

Narayankaji in Beijing, to discuss BRI among others

The Nepal Weekly
March 26, 2024

Will he succeed in reopening Mansarovar to foreign visitors?

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Narayan Kaji Shrestha, who is on a nine day official visit to the People’s Republic of China, has reached Beijing, the capital city of China on Monday. Shrestha left Kathmandu late night Sunday for his maiden visit to China at the invitation of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

During his nine-day visit, “he would hold bilateral talks with his Chinese counterpart Yi and meet other high-level dignitaries,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement, without giving any detail.

Shrestha’s visit comes soon after formation of a new government by Prime Minister Pushpakamal Dahal “Prachanda”, who dumped the Nepali Congress and forged a new alliance with CPN-UML, the largest communist party, on March 4. Observers watching closely the political developments in Nepal hinted that there was China’s hand in bringing about the recent change in the power structure in Nepal. The foreign minister is visiting China with plans to discuss the implementation of Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) of China, which has so far failed to materialize despite seven years having passed since the agreement was inked between the two countries. BRI is China’s ambitious multi-nation infrastructure project.

The Nepali Congress party had shown reservations about signing any loan agreement under BRI, which is believed to have made the northern neighbour unhappy.

During his meeting with Chinese leaders, Shrestha will focus mainly on implementing past agreements and understandings reached between the two countries, said Foreign Ministry sources.

Ahead of his visit to China, Foreign Minister Shrestha on Sunday held consultations with senior officials from various ministries.

“My visit will focus on strengthening bilateral ties and increasing cooperation and assistance between Nepal and China,” Shrestha told senior government officials during the consultation.

Foreign Minister Shrestha is also expected to visit the holy pilgrimage site Kailash Mansarovar in Tibet during his visit to China. Situated in the Ngari prefecture of the Tibet Autonomous Region, the Kailash- Mansarovar pilgrimage is considered the most sacred by Hindus across the world. The two natural sacrosanct places are also revered by Buddhists, Jains and Tibet’s indigenous Bonpa faith.

Hundreds of devotees from Nepal and India visited the sacred place before the pandemic. China imposed many restrictions specially to Indian pilgrims despite opening the area for visitors in the post- Covid era in 2023. If Foreign Minister Shrestha could put the matter with the Chinese authorities during the visit and ease restrictions, it would help boost Nepal’s tourism sector which was suffering badly due to the pandemic. Shestha will return home on April 1 wrapping up the official visit.