Nepal visit expected to strengthen relationship

2019-10-12 11:01:47China Daily Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download
Special: Xi Attends Informal Meeting with Indian PM, Visits Nepal

Leela Mani Paudyal, Nepal's ambassador to China, file photo. (Photo provided to China Daily)

Nepal expects President Xi Jinping's state visit to boost the confidence of people in the two countries and promote bilateral cooperation in such areas as people-to-people exchanges, connectivity and energy, said Leela Mani Paudyal, Nepal's ambassador to China, ahead of the weekend visit.

This is the first visit by a Chinese president to Nepal in 23 years.

"That's why Nepalese people are looking forward to this visit with high expectations," Paudyal said, adding that it will be a historic visit that significantly upgrades the bilateral relationship to reach new heights.

"I expect that the visit will usher in a new era in our bilateral relations and lay the foundation for long-term cooperation in order to tap potential opportunities for common prosperity," he said.

During Xi's visit, the two countries are expected to sign cooperative agreements on infrastructure connectivity such as railway and road construction, power, education, border cooperation, tourism and traditional medicine, Paudyal said.

These are areas in which the two countries need to explore the possibility of mutually beneficial cooperation, and the involvement of Chinese enterprises is greatly welcomed, he added.

Paudyal said the Nepal-China relationship has been substantially expanded in recent years, particularly in the area of people-to-people exchanges.

"Tourism is the area that Nepal can see immediate benefits and maximum advantages as the number of Chinese tourists to Nepal reached more than 153,000 in 2018, a growth of 47 percent compared with the previous year," he said, adding that his country expects at least half a million Chinese tourists in 2020.

Nepal exempts visa fees for Chinese visitors and greatly simplified the visa application procedure to attract more Chinese tourists. After the completion of the country's two new international airports in Pokhara and near Lumbini, both of which were done with the help of Chinese companies, more flights between the two countries are expected.

The ambassador said Nepal will also provide more Chinese-speaking tour guides, and increase the number of hotels and restaurants to provide better services.

"We also encourage Nepalese people to visit China so the people in the two countries can better understand each other," Paudyal said.

China and Nepal signed a memorandum of understanding in 2017 on jointly building the Belt and Road. In April, Nepali President Bidhya Devi Bhandari paid her first state visit to China and participated in the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation.

Paudyal said the Belt and Road Initiative is the best framework for bilateral cooperation as it helps to promote connectivity and tap the potential of development between China and South Asia given Nepal's strategic position in the region.

Better connectivity will bring more economic opportunities, which will substantially improve people's livelihoods, he said.

"If we are working under the regional cooperation platform for common benefit, the level of confidence among the people, governments and countries will be boosted and promote harmony in the region and beyond," the ambassador said.

"That's how we saw this good opportunity for working together with China and the outside world through different platforms such as the Belt and Road Initiative for regional peace and development," he added.


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