Nepal-China relationship has a solid political foundation. Nepal has been firmly pursuing one-China policy, and I believe it understands and supports China’s concerns and positions in Tibet, Taiwan and other issues relating to core Chinese interests. The China-Nepal Comprehensive Cooperative Partnership has ever-lasting friendship at its heart. This reflects long traditions in both Nepal and China and reflects the common aspiration of the two peoples.
From an economic viewpoint, Nepal links China (with 1.3 billion people) with South Asia (with 1.5 billion). The huge common market provides great opportunities for both China and South Asia. China is pushing its ‘Develop west’ strategy, and South Asia represents one of the main overseas investment opportunities. Nepal could provide China the much-needed overland channel to South Asia.
From security viewpoint, the China-Nepal Border of 1,414 km makes it imperative that the two sides work together to combat transnational crimes, human trafficking, smuggling and drug trafficking. Both the sides are responsible for safeguarding and promoting a peaceful, stable and prosperous border.
Since diplomatic relation between Nepal and China was first established in 1955, bilateral relationship has been relatively healthy and stable, although not without its ups and downs. In 2009, the two sides established Comprehensive Cooperative Partnership with everlasting friendship as its defining feature. Last year, Premier Wen Jiabao paid a successful visit to Nepal, the first by a Chinese premier in 10 years. China and Nepal reached broad consensus on strengthening friendly exchanges and cooperation in politics, economy, trade, culture, and other fields.
The prospects of bilateral relations are encouraging. The two sides respect each other’s interests and increasingly communicate and cooperate on regional and international affairs.
Total China-Nepal trade this year will exceed US $ 1.5 billion, from US $1.2 billion last year. The number of the zero-tariff products that China grants Nepal is 7,787, which has helped promote development bilateral trade. There are over 20 Chinese enterprises investing around US $100 million in Nepal. During his Nepal visit, Premier Wen Jiabao announced 750 million yuan in aid to Nepal in the next three years. China is also actively promoting the Pokhara airport, the reconstruction of ring road in Kathmandu, Tatopani dry port, and other projects in Nepal.
Cultural exchanges have also been growing between the two countries. From January to September in 2012, the number of first-stop-to-Nepal Chinese travelers reached 78,400, a 24.4 percent increment from 2011. Likewise, the number of Nepali people who went to China went up to 26,900, an increase of 17.4 percent. This indicates a big increase in exchange of cultures.
The prospects for China-Nepal relations are broad and encouraging. Both sides respect each other’s core interests and maintain good communication and cooperation on regional and international affairs.
The social basis to promote bilateral ties is profound. The two countries have great potential on pragmatic cooperation. Nepal is rich in agriculture, tourism and hydropower resources while China has the advantage in capital and technology. Although trade and investment ties between the two countries have been increasing, it is nowhere near the levels that might be reached given willpower on both sides.
There is a Chinese saying that a near neighbor is better than a brother far off. The 18th CPC National Congress emphasized that China would continue to promote friendship and partnership with our neighbors and ensure that China’s development will bring more benefits to our neighbors. It will contribute to common development in Asia, on the way to creating a stable, prosperous and harmonious neighborhood. No matter how successful China is in the future, we will continue to strengthen good neighborhood policy. China will always be a good neighbor, a good friend and a good partner for the surrounding countries. We refuse the logic that a strong country is inevitably hegemonic. Seeking hegemony and expansion is not Chinese culture, and certainly not our policy.
To further promote China-Nepal relations, we will increase high-level exchanges and active cooperation. China will continue to invite Nepal’s high-level officials to China, or arrange top leaders of both sides to meet at international occasions. We believe top leaders of the two countries should maintain regular contact to promote mutual understanding and better relations on the political front.
China will strive to maintain its sustained and healthy economic development. The “12th Five-Year plan” is expected to provide for imports exceeding US $8 trillion and US $ 500 billion in foreign direct investment, which will bring tremendous power to the weak world economy. This also represents a great opportunity for greater China-Nepal economic and trade cooperation. We should actively promote interconnection and enlarge the scale of trade and investment. We hope Nepal engages in joint efforts with China to speed up infrastructure construction in border areas, and accelerate the construction of trade port.
China will take all measures to facilitate and promote China-Nepal trade and expand Nepal’s exports to China. We hope Nepal can explore the Chinese market even as China will continue to encourage more creditable Chinese enterprises to invest in Nepal. We also hope Nepal can create a favorable investment environment to enable China to support and help Nepal economically.
Likewise, China will continue to hold “Chinese Festival” in Nepal to allow Nepalis to learn more about Chinese culture. We will get more Nepali students to go to China, and send Chinese students to study the history and culture of Nepal. China’s sports and religion delegations will visit Nepal to strengthen cultural exchanges between the two sides. China will also continue to support the Tibet Autonomous Region to enhance its cooperation with Nepal.
Nepal is an important member of SAARC and has been playing an active and constructive role in regional affairs. China hopes to further strengthen the development of pragmatic cooperation in various fields with SAARC. Nepal and China can strengthen communication and exchanges in this regard. In addition, Nepal and China as developing countries should strengthen communication and coordination on climate change, sustainable development, poverty reduction and Security Council reform, and join hands to safeguard the interests of developing countries.
Last November, the Communist Party of China held the 18th CPC National Congress, which was of enormous importance, coming at it did at a time China enters a decisive stage of building a moderately prosperous society in all aspects by 2020. By the time, we should be able to double our 2010 GDP and per capita income, for both urban and rural residents.
On foreign relations, China will unswervingly follow the path of peaceful development and a win-win strategy of opening up. China is committed to friendship and cooperation with other countries on all fields on the basis of the Five Principle of Peaceful Coexistence. We will continue to consolidate friendly relations and deepen mutually beneficial cooperation with our neighbors, and ensure that China’s development will bring even more benefits to our neighbors. We earnestly hope Nepal can grab this wonderful opportunity.
At present, Nepal is undergoing a political transformation, and has encountered some difficulties. But I believe diligent and intelligent Nepali people will be able to work out the right path of development for their country. During the period, Chinese people are willing to share their experiences in nation building with Nepali people, and provide maximum support to help realize the goal of common progress and prosperity.
An edited version of a speech delivered by the Chinese Ambassador to Nepal during a Nepal-China Media Forum talk program in Kathmandu on Jan 4