Former Nepalese Ambassador to China Leela Mani Paudyal on Saturday said that Nepal rejects Indo-Pacific Strategy and highlighted the importance of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in Nepal’s foreign policy.
He was speaking at Nepal Institute for International Cooperation and Engagement (NIICE) Global Conclave, a three-day event organized by Nepal Institute for International Cooperation which will host 220 speakers from 41 countries.
“There is a huge gap in Nepal’s development financing that BRI can supplement. Nepal expects to develop physical infrastructure like road, railways, transmission line, power, air connectivity. It also expects to revive culture heritage sites, promote tourism and conserve biodiversity, promote trade and investment. Air connectivity has been enhanced,” the Ambassador said during the “Nepal-China relation” session.
According to Leela Mani Paudyal, China is the largest source of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) of Nepal.
In his address, Paudyal said, “We have received substantial help from China to fight Covid without which it would have been impossible to treat the virus. There are a lot of development and cooperation activities. Both the counties have reached several agreements, MoUs and understandings that provides better framework, platforms and guidelines for fostering cooperation.”
“Our foreign policy rejects Indo-Pacific and accepts BRI because it is under the UN Charter and principle. As a non-aligned country we can accept BRI. There has to be political commitment to implement BRI projects,” he added.
Recently, Nepal and China joined hands to develop three separate hydropower projects on Marsyangdi river in western Manang and Lamjung districts of Nepal.
However, Professor Dai Yonghong from Shenzhen University questioned the implementation of BRI projects in Nepal and opined that much more can be done.
Stating some reasons for the low implementation of the projects, Prof Yonghong said, “Nepalese Government is hesitating to decide whether to continue to implement the joint agreement between China and Nepal since 2017. There have been many agreements between Nepal and China in terms of infrastructure, cultural, tourism development but why is the implementation relatively low.”
“Nepal is confused whether it should completely accept Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) or go towards Millennium Challenge Corporation Compact (MCC) or some other agreement,” he added.
Nepal had earlier signed the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), a US government’s grant worth $500 million to develop its hydroelectricity transmission infrastructure.
Yonghong further said political instability is the reason for less implementation of BRI projects.
“There is a political instability in Nepal and political policies are not consistent in the country,” Prof Yonghong said.
He emphasized on the faster implementation of the existing agreements and said the most important thing for the government is to focus on the economic needs of Nepalese people and to implement the BRI agreements.
To counter China’s BRI, the seven richest economies in the world, known as G7, arrived at a consensus and offered developing nations an infrastructure plan, The Build Back Better World (B3W) initiative.
The infrastructure plan will be led by United States President Joe Biden.