September 12, 2023
KATHMANDU – Leaders of major parties have advised Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal to maintain a fine balance in the country’s relations with the two neighbours as he prepares for a China visit this month.
Dahal is preparing for two back-to-back visits—first to the 78th United National General Assembly in New York and then to China. Dahal is scheduled to address the UNGA on September 21 and attend the opening ceremony of the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou on September 23.
The prime minister will participate in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Summit as the chair of the Least Developed Countries and will meet foreign leaders and officials on the sidelines of the General Assembly. He is heading for New York on September 16 and flying to China on September 22 on a state visit.
During a meeting called by the prime minister at the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers at Singha Durbar, the leaders suggested to the prime minister to focus on assessing the implementation status of past agreements with China, emphasise bilateral interests, including Chinese security concerns, and expressed their confidence in Nepal’s non-aligned foreign policy. Additionally, they stressed that the government should do proper homework on issues that could benefit Nepal during his visit.
One of the former foreign ministers, Prakash Chandra Lohani, said he warned the prime minister of the consequences if the country failed to maintain a fine balance in its relations with the powerful neighbours.
“There is a growing concern about the loss in balance of Nepal’s foreign policy, which is also reflected in the Chinese ambassador’s recent statements,” Lohani told the Post. “I have told the prime minister about how buffer states like Nepal can plunge into a deep crisis when they fail to maintain a fine balance between powerful nations.”
The fourth-largest party in the House of Representatives, Rastriya Swatantra Party (RSP), presented its seven-point written suggestions to the prime minister.
“We have informed the prime minister about people’s concerns over the map [published by China]. We have told the prime minister to deliver the country’s opinion about the map in a way that people hear,” DP Aryal, an RSP lawmaker said after attending the meeting. “We have also asked the prime minister to focus on opening and smooth operations of border points with China.”
Aryal also suggested that ministers and other members of the prime minister’s delegation be mindful of the basic diplomatic etiquette and the prime minister to make sure that the kind of embarrassing incidents that took place during his India visit aren’t repeated.
Former prime ministers–Congress chief Sher Bahadur Deuba, UML chair KP Sharma Oli, CPN (Unified Socialist) chair Madhav Kumar Nepal—participated in Sunday’s meeting.
Foreign Minister NP Saud, leaders including Mahantha Thakur, CK Raut, Chitra Bahadur KC and Prem Suwal, as well as former foreign ministers—Ramesh Nath Pande, Prakash Chandra Lohani, Pradeep Gyawali and Bimala Poudel Rai—prime minister’s political advisor Haribol Gajurel, National Security Council Advisor Shankar Das Bairagi, Chief Secretary Baikuntha Aryal and Foreign Secretary Bharat Raj Poudel were also present at the meeting.
According to the prime minister’s secretariat, the leaders have asked Dahal to make thorough preparation so as to maximise the benefits of his visit in national interest.
After listening to the suggestions, Dahal asserted that his visit to the northern neighbour would be a productive one and the government was doing everything to ensure the trip’s success.
“This interaction was organised to discuss ways to make the China visit effective and beneficial. All your suggestions are very important,” the prime minister said at the meeting, according to the prime minister’s secretariat. “We have made maximum effort to make the visit successful and it will be,” they quoted Dahal as saying.
The prime minister reiterated the commitment to the policy of non-alignment while highlighting the government’s hard work to maintain balanced relations with Nepal’s neighbouring countries and the international community.
Prime Minister Dahal told the leaders that he would inform the world about Nepal’s initiatives for development, the effects of climate change on the country, as well as about the country’s attempts to take the peace process to a logical conclusion. Dahal said he would also appeal to the global community for a collective effort to address these issues.
Former foreign minister Lohani said he advised the prime minister not to make demands but instead train his focus on mutually beneficial issues.
“I have made three suggestions to help boost Nepal’s economy,” Lohani told the Post.
He said the prime minister should focus on developing special economic zones at Panchkhal of Kavre and Ratmate of Nuwakot and ask China to import Nepal’s products.
His other suggestions were regarding building a cross-border transmission line with the goal of selling electricity within five years and the implementation of the Nepal China Non-Governmental Cooperation Forum, a deal on which was signed two decades ago.
Leaders including CK Raut, chairman of the Janamat Party, who attended the meeting suggested that the prime minister learn from the experience of China on poverty alleviation. “We have advised the prime minister to ask China to set up manufacturing firms in Nepal and allow Nepali exports via China as the country excels in manufacturing,” Raut told the reporters after the meeting.
“This will help create jobs at the local level in Nepal. We also want China to help develop fertiliser plants in order to lessen our dependence on other countries.”