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Wang Yi’s Nepal visit: Conflicting messaging over key issues

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi wrapped up his-three day Nepal visit—his first under the Deuba government—with both countries issuing separate accounts of their meetings marked by notable diversions

Mar 28, 2022
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Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi visit Nepal

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi wrapped up his-three day Nepal visit—his first under the Deuba government—with both countries issuing separate accounts of their meetings marked by notable diversions. Despite signing nine instruments on economic and technical cooperation, the two sides seem to be not on the same page when it comes to some key issues.

The statement issued by Nepal’s Foreign Ministry on the talks between the foreign ministers of two countries notably avoided mentioning China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). It said the two sides underscored the need to “expedite the execution of ongoing projects as well as to implement the agreements and understandings reached between the two countries during high-level visits.”

China, in a separate statement issued by its foreign ministry, said it supports “Nepal's deeper participation in the ‘Belt and Road’  and the two countries have “made gratifying progress in joint construction of the ‘Belt and Road’”.

Significantly, the boundary issue that Nepal raised during the visit found no mention in the official statements issued by China. Last year Nepali agencies confirmed in an internal report that China has unilaterally altered boundary pillars in some border villages in the far north region.  

Nepal’s Foreign Ministry said, “the two Foreign Ministers agreed to carry out joint inspection of Nepal-China boundary through mutual consultation.” 

Earlier, the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu had refuted that the two countries have any boundary issue. 

Although neither side mentioned, at least in their official statements, the issue of the MCC aid program, the issue was reportedly discussed between the leaders. China, which remains apprehensive about the MCC project, was believed to be behind what US officials said the coordinated disinformation campaign.  

Earlier, Beijing had accused the US of adopting “coercive diplomacy” on the MCC grant program in Nepal.

In a veiled reference to the controversial aid program, the Chinese Foreign Ministry statement said, “China believes that the affairs of Nepal should be decided by the Nepali people themselves.” 

It further added, “China opposes attempts to undermine Nepal's sovereignty and independence, interfere in Nepal's internal affairs, and play geopolitical games in Nepal. Nepal should become a shining example of cooperation between China and South Asia.”

However, Nepal’s Foreign Minister Narayan Khadka told reporters that they had conveyed that the program is purely for “developmental objectives”. China also mentioned Prime Minister Deuba’s assurance and quoted him as saying, “Nepal will continue to firmly adhere to the one-China principle and never allow any forces to use Nepal's territory for any anti-China activities.”
 
(SAM)

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