By Pushpa Raj Pradhan
There is a popular saying in Nepali, “Time and Tide Never Wait for anyone”. We have talked much about the 19th NC CPC and Belt and Road Initiative of China. Now, it is the time to materialize talks by importing Chinese investments for infrastructural development and transforming Nepali economy.
President’s Xi’s doctrine:
Chinese supreme leader and President Xi Jinping, in the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, has introduced a new doctrine for strengthening China, empowering Chinese people and making a prosperous world under the theme of socialism with Chinese characteristic. Therefore, the 19th NC of the CPC is important for the Chinese people as well as all the people in the world.
CPC has achieved tremendous accomplishments after a long struggle and now China has entered into a new era.
The new era is defined as: for securing a moderately prosperous society in all respects and a great modern socialist society; for the better life, ultimately achieving common prosperity for everyone; for realizing the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation; for China to move closer to the center stage of the world and making greater contribution to mankind.
The 19th NC of the CPC has adopted BRI for global infrastructural development and promotion of global trade and economy as well.
At a time, when China is moving forward towards becoming the world’s largest economy, Nepal, China’s one among the immediate neighbours is still an underdeveloped country.
Due to lack of infrastructures, Nepal is struggling to rescue her economy. Continuously inclining deficit in foreign trade and worst scenario of the industrial sector are the negative trend of our economy.
Although Nepal is a very rich country in natural resources, she is unable to harness them. Nepal is a very rich country in hydropower but we are facing acute shortage of electricity and we have ended hours long load-shedding by importing electricity from India.
Nepal is using petro-products to run her industries and import of petro-products is increasing every year and we have not been able to meet even the cost of the petro-products’ import even from our total exports to the foreign countries.
Due to use of petro-products in our industries, the production cost has been increased and our products are unable to compete with other countries’ products in the international market. Similarly, transportation of goods by vehicles operating from petro-products has increased the production cost of our domestic products.
Nepal: India-locked country:
Nepal is a land-locked country still the fact is that Nepal is an India locked country. Due to the Indian hegemony, time and again, Nepal is suffering from economic sanctions imposed by India. But very soon, Nepal is going to get rid from the psychology of an India-locked country. Along with endorsement of agreement on transportation and trade with China, Nepal can enjoy Chinese sea-ports and along with improvement of the infrastructures in Kerung trade point, reopening of the Khasha trade point and also development of other trade points in Nepal’s northern borders, our dependency with India will end. Furthermore, construction of railway line from mainland China upto Kerung border and from Kerung to Kathmandu, Pokhara and Lumbini will enormously flourish Nepali economy. There is no doubt.
BRI and Nepal:
Nepal needs construction of big hydropower projects and railway lines for her economic transformation. If hydropower generated electricity is used for industries, it will help to reduce petro-products’ imports and production costs of the industries; if we use electricity operating railway service, we can not only reduce import of petro-products, we can also reduce transportation costs of our products as well.
Nepal is the country which is unable to produce a single drop of petro-product. Therefore, Nepal should discourage use of petro-products and give optimum priority on use of hydropower generated electricity, solar energy, wind energy among others to rescue her sick economy.
Nepal needs huge investment to construct hydropower projects, railway lines and other infrastructural projects. Therefore, foreign investment is obviously needed for Nepal. If one looks at the international scenario, China stands as the No 1 country in foreign investment. China has allotted a huge stock of foreign currency to invest in foreign countries. Therefore, Nepal should give all her concentration in inviting Chinese investments in the country. Nepal is the founding member of the Asian Infrastructural Development Bank initiated and established by China. Nepal is now a member of the OBOR initiative. Therefore, Nepal can import Chinese investment in the country more easily than from other countries.
On the above background, Nepal should not miss the opportunity to transform Nepal’s economy in a new trend. As time and tide never wait, Nepal, without any further delay, should move forward to import Chinese investments.
Opening of opportunities in Nepal-China trade:
Infrastructure in Kerung trade point is not sufficient and the Khasha trade-point has remained closed, at this stage also if we watch the trade volume between Nepal and Tibet Autonomous Region of China, it is increasing every year. It is sorry to state that when imports are increasing by many folds, whereas, exports to China are very negligible. Nepal should thus consider on capturing Chinese market and give priority in producing items which can be exported to China. China is a huge country and big market for Nepal as well.
By giving example of Sri Lanka, some people who are against Chinese investment in Nepal are creating propaganda that if Chinese investment is invited in Nepal, Nepal will become China’s economic slave. Of course, if Nepal will not consider on using foreign investment properly, she cannot get rid from Chinese debts. Therefore, Nepal should remain alert in proper utilization of the Chinese investment.
Some Indians and so-called pro-Indian scholars in Nepal are found saying that construction of railway line may become a “white elephant” for Nepal and Nepal’s economy will be finished while paying back Chine’s debts. This seems a funny argument. Nepal should now think for increasing exports to China. When railway starts operation, of course, we bring Chinese goods to Kathmandu. We should now think that on what we can send to China when the train returns. The Nepal government has identified the area from Rasuwaguri to Dhadingbesi as the economic corridor. Of course, this is aimed at producing goods and exporting them to China.
China’s population recorded in 2017 is 1.41 billion. Nepal is a country where Lord Buddha was born. If we will be able to bring several billion Chinese tourists to Nepal, including Chinese Buddhist pilgrims to Lumbini, we can easily boost our economy. Furthermore, there is a huge demand of livestock in China. We can export livestock to China. China is a huge market for herbs. We can farm and export herbs to China. We can identify many items which can be exported to China.
Catching the Train of Development:
Since Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping introduced a liberal economy, in the late 1980s, China gave all her concentrations in bringing foreign investment for infrastructural development. Now, the very country, after infrastructural development, has become the No 1 country investing in foreign countries. Taking lessons from China’s history of economic development, Nepal should focus on bringing foreign investment for infrastructural development. There should be no compromise in bringing foreign investments for infrastructural development as this is the base of our economic development.
Meanwhile, in strengthening economic relations with China, we should never neglect China’s security sensitiveness. Why the Khasha trade point has remained closed after the devastating earthquake, why the Chinese side is talking about deployment of joint border security force in this area, we have to understand. We have maintained one China policy and we have outstanding policy of never allowing Nepali soil to be used against the neighbouring countries. Nepal should be practically abide by these policies. Otherwise, we will have to face hurdles in our bilateral relations.
Catch the Chinese train
By Pushpa Raj Pradhan