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Editorial: Dahal’s priorities in Beijing

Editorial: Dahal’s priorities in Beijing

Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal is scheduled to visit China from Sept 23, following his participation in the 78th United Nations General Assembly in New York. 

While bureaucratic preparations are underway, the prime minister is also engaging in consultations with political leaders to determine key issues to be raised with Chinese leaders. Nepali Ambassador to China Bishnu Pukar Shrestha has been holding meetings with high-ranking Chinese officials to finalize the potential agenda for the visit. 

While the Chinese side is insisting that both sides should focus on implementation of the past agreements, there are some key issues that Dahal needs to raise when he sits with Chinese officials. Foremost among these is China’s new map that does not acknowledge Nepal’s political map launched in 2020. Dahal has already pledged to raise this issue, and the nation is keenly anticipating how he will approach it and how the northern neighbor will react.

Of late, there are confusions in Nepal over some issues raised by China. For example, China has categorized the Pokhara International Airport as a major project under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Nepali authorities have consistently refuted this claim, yet the Chinese side has not clarified its stance. Likewise, there are confusions on BRI even eight years after signing of the agreement. It is the duty of the Prime Minister Dahal to articulate Nepal's concerns on the initiative.

Furthermore, there are confusions in both the political and diplomatic circles of Nepal about China’s new initiatives such as Global Security Initiative and Global Civilization Initiative. Chinese Ambassador to Nepal Chen Song recently said that Nepal is already a part of GCI. His predecessor, Hou Yanqi, too, had publicly declared that Nepal had joined the GSI.

Another pressing issue is the absence of a joint border inspection between Nepal and China. This has given rise to various issues including allegations of border encroachment by China. During his visit, Dahal should urge Beijing for a joint inspection of the border. While there are other bilateral matters that require attention, it is paramount that Dahal take up the aforementioned issues with Beijing. If both sides are genuinely committed to elevating the bilateral relationship to a new level, they must resolve these outstanding issues first.