By Liu Lulu
Nepalese Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali embarked on an official visit to China this week. “One of the objectives of my China visit is to come up with a concrete outline for the effective implementation of past agreements,” the minister said prior to his trip. Beijing and Kathmandu have been sparing no effort in promoting their mutually beneficial cooperation in recent years.
The significance of Nepal and the whole of South Asia to China can never be underestimated, especially in the era of globalization. Given its prominent geographic location bounded on the south by the Indian Ocean, South Asia directly concerns the security of China’s international energy pathway and trade routes, and has a place of prominence for China’s Belt and Road initiative.
Beijing has been promoting ties with Kathmandu. The two countries have reached a consensus on a long-term vision for a cross-Himalaya connectivity network, and agreed to launch a feasibility study for a cross-border railway connecting China and Nepal. However, Beijing-Kathmandu cooperation is often interpreted as China’s attempt to draw Nepal away from India’s chariot, and has thus raised anxieties among Indian politicians.
China has reiterated that it has no intention of challenging India’s dominant status in South Asia. Deals that Beijing inked with regional countries are for the good of the entire region. For instance, the cross-Himalaya connectivity network is expected to create conditions for an economic corridor linking China, Nepal and India, and contribute to the prosperity of the whole region.
China’s role in South Asia is welcomed by regional countries. Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena publicly thanked Beijing for its strong support in the country’s development.
“The Chinese government and its people have always helped us and for that I appreciate and thank them and I hope this relationship will only get further strengthened,” Sirisena said at the 60th anniversary celebrations of Sino-Sri Lankan bilateral relations last year.
Common development is what China pursues in developing ties with South Asian countries, including India. China has been actively promoting the Belt and Road initiative in recent years and its ultimate purpose is to bring development and prosperity to the whole region. Countries like Pakistan and Nepal have recognized China’s sincerity and profited tremendously from the initiative. Regional cooperation has taken off.
As a major power in South Asia, India should join hands with China for common development, which will be of particular significance for South Asia’s prosperity. As neighbors connected by the same rivers and mountains, China, Nepal and India are natural friends. As Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said, “Nepal stands as a natural beneficiary of cooperation and development by China and India. This is a logical desire that should be supported by both China and India.”