China-Nepal Ties Get Boost as Nepal PM Shows Silk Road Support

| Mar 27, 2017 08:14 AM EDT

Nepal Premier's special envoy Krishna Bahadur Mahara meets with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang ahead of a meeting in Zhongnanhai Leadership Compound on Aug. 17, 2016 in Beijing.

China-Nepal ties got a boost as Nepal's Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, also known as Prachanda, has expressed Silk Road support, a Reuters report stated.

The Nepali leader embarked on a six-day trip to China starting on Thursday to throw his backing to Beijing's landmark project to establish a 21st century Silk Road that will enhance trade across Asia.

For its part, China has already invested in some of the country's infrastructures such as roads, hospitals, airports and even hydropower projects.

The government has also previously shown his adamant intent to include Nepal in President Xi Jinping's Silk Road initiative. The endeavor known as the "One Belt, One Road" project eyes to link Asian countries with Africa, Middle East and Europe.

During his trip, Foreign Minister Prakash Sharan Mahat shared that Prime Minister Prachanda is expected to tackle the OBOR initiative and other aspects of cooperation such as energy and investment.

Rishi Adhikari, an aide to the Nepali Prime Minster, confirmed to Reuters that their country is set to "express [their] commitment to join the OBOR initiative."

However, Reuters noted that the said move could "upset traditional regional powerhouse India."

Nepal, where Beijing plans to increase its footing and presence, acts a natural buffer between India and China, who have been facing a festering border dispute.

India also serves as Nepal's largest trading partner and sole source of fuel.

Prachanda's visit serves as his first since his election in August. Back in October, Xi avoided Nepal during a tour in South Asia as reports have surfaced that the newly elected prime minister has gone slow on the China-Nepal partnerships made during the previous administration.

“. . . Prachanda will have to tread carefully not to ruffle feathers in Delhi and to make Beijing too anxious,” Nepali Times editor Kunda Dixit told Reuters, stressing out that Nepal should not play Beijing against Indian capital New Delhi.

Meanwhile, Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan met with Nepali counterpart Bal Krishna Khand and discussed China-Nepal ties in terms of military relations.

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