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China, Nepal say proposed rail link most significant initiative in history of bilateral cooperation

Nepal and China agreed to execute several projects under China’s Belt and Road Initiative that encompass ports, roads, railways, aviation and communications.

world Updated: Jun 22, 2018 21:32 IST
Anil Giri
Anil Giri
Hindustan Times, Kathmandu
China,Nepal,Chinese railway network
Nepal's Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli (left) shakes hands with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang during a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Thursday. (AFP Photo)

Nepal and China on Friday described their plan to extend the Chinese railway network to Kathmandu as the “most significant initiative” in bilateral relations as it would lead to a “new era of cross-border connectivity”.

The two countries agreed to execute several projects under China’s Belt and Road Initiative that encompass ports, roads, railways, aviation and communications within the overarching framework of a “Trans-Himalayan Multi-Dimensional Connectivity Network”.

A joint statement issued during the Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s ongoing visit to China said the two sides agreed to take practical measures to promote cooperation under several MOUs, including one for conducting a feasibility study for the Kerung-Kathmandu railway link.

Referring to the proposed railway link, the joint statement said: “They underscored it as the most significant initiative in the history of bilateral cooperation and believed that it would herald a new era of cross-border connectivity…The Chinese side agreed to provide such support as in technology and personnel training.”

Other MoUs signed during Oli’s visit cover the rebuilding of two bridges and a protocol on the use of Tibetan highways for cargo transport.

The two sides also finalised pacts for establishing a mechanism between the foreign ministries for implementing cooperation programmes and projects in Nepal, energy cooperation, and economic and technical cooperation.

They also agreed to deepen cooperation in economy, trade, investment, industrial capacity, and post-disaster reconstruction, according to the joint statement.

Other key takeaways of Oli’s visit are the early finalisation of a joint feasibility study for a free trade agreement and establishing cross-border economic cooperation zones.

The Chinese side agreed to support Chinese-funded banks in opening branches in Nepal to promote trade, tourism and investment. They also agreed to negotiate financing modalities for projects proposed by Nepal for road and railway connectivity, hydropower and transmission lines.

Nepal and China also agreed to strengthen cooperation between law enforcement agencies on information exchanges, capacity building and training. They agreed to negotiate treaties on mutual legal assistance in criminal matters and extradition and reiterated their firm commitment to respect each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

The Chinese side said it will provide 400 training opportunities in human resource development and more government scholarships to Nepal, which will facilitate the teaching programme of volunteer Chinese language teachers.

First Published: Jun 22, 2018 21:30 IST