China, Nepal agree on trans-Himalayan railway

Updated on Aug 12, 2022 05:07 AM IST

This was agreed during a meeting between Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, Wang Yi, and his Nepalese counterpart, Narayan Khadka, in the eastern Chinese city of Qingdao.

Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi speaks during a press conference on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Phnom Penh on August 5, 2022. (AFP)
Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi speaks during a press conference on the sidelines of the East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Phnom Penh on August 5, 2022. (AFP)
By, Beijing

China has agreed to finance a feasibility study for a cross-border railway with Nepal under the trans-Himalayan multi-dimensional connectivity network, part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and pledged $118 million for China-assisted projects in the country, the foreign ministries of the two countries have said.

China will send experts to conduct surveys for the railway this year, the Chinese foreign ministry said on Thursday.

This was agreed during a meeting between Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, Wang Yi, and his Nepalese counterpart, Narayan Khadka, in the eastern Chinese city of Qingdao on Wednesday, Wang Wenbin, ministry spokesperson said at a media briefing in Beijing on Thursday.

“As I said just now, the two foreign ministers during their talks agreed to build a cross Himalaya, multidimensional connectivity network. State councillor Wang said that China will use funds, assist Nepal to support feasibility study for the railway and within the year experts will be dispatched to Nepal for exploration,” spokesperson Wang said.

Wang said China will work with Nepal on power projects and also in building cross Himalayan connectivity projects.

Foreign minister Wang’s pledges are part of China’s outreach to south Asian countries as Beijing expands its influence in the region.

President Xi Jinping had visited Nepal in October, 2019, when bilateral ties were upgraded to a “strategic partnership”.

A separate Nepalese foreign ministry statement on the Wang-Khadka meeting said the Chinese diplomat pledged 800 million RMB ($118 million) in grant assistance to Nepal to for various projects.

According to the Nepalese statement, Wang announced that “…China will carry out the feasibility study of Keyrung-Kathmandu Railway under the grant assistance. He also assured support for pre-feasibility study of Nepal-China cross border transmission line as agreed during his official visit to Nepal in March 2022.”

“On the occasion, state councillor Wang Yi announced to provide 800 million RMB to Nepal for the year 2022,” the Nepalese statement added.

Keyrung-Kathmandu Railway is part of the trans-Himalayan multi-dimensional connectivity network, the plan for which was first formally agreed between China and Nepal in 2017 when Kathmandu joined the BRI.

Additionally, Wang announced that China will “provide Nepal with 3 million RMB ($445,136) worth of disaster relief materials as per Nepal’s request. China will also provide Nepal with additional 2 million RMB ($296,757) worth of medical items and logistics,” the Nepalese statement said, adding Wang also announced that China will provide additional Covid-19 vaccines and Covid-19 related “medical assistance as much as Nepal may require”.

“China is ready to work with Nepal to jointly build the Belt and Road (Initiative) with high quality, carry forward their ever-lasting friendship and open up new prospects for the development of bilateral relations,” Wang told Khadka, another statement on the meeting released by the official news agency, Xinhua, on Thursday said.

Wang added that China will continue to support Nepal in upholding its sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity, in independently seeking a development path consistent with national realities, and in improving the lives of its people and national revitalisation, the Xinhua statement said.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Sutirtho Patranobis has been in Beijing since 2012, as Hindustan Times’ China correspondent. He was previously posted in Colombo, Sri Lanka, where he covered the final phase of the civil war and its aftermath. Patranobis covered several beats including health and national politics in Delhi before being posted abroad.

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