Some visits are tediously long, and don't yield results. The Chinese premier's visit this week has proved to be one of the most fruitful ones, although it lasted only for four hours. The visit by the close neighbor who has always stood by Nepal without interfering in its internal affairs has always been very special, and the agreements signed between the two countries for cooperation on different areas has endured. This visit was no exception.
The visit came as a surprise for many, but that was because it was a precautionary step by the government to ensure the visit was not called off for the same reasons it was previously. The good news is, the visit has promoted Nepal's image internationally and concerns about Nepal's ability to host high profile visits, if any, have been removed.
Besides, the misconception that Nepal has become a playground for anti-Chinese activities has also been cleared. Most importantly, the visit has earned us Beijing's goodwill for the ongoing peace process and constitution drafting.
There is no point wasting time on what we did not achieve,instead we should appreciate the goodwill shown by the Chinese to arranging for the visit on such short notice. This can be the beginning of Nepal's diplomatic rise and instead of being over-critical we should prepare for a historic visit by another neighbouring head of the government, the Indian Prime Minister in the near future.
Editorial, 15 January
The visit by Chinese premier Wen Jiabao has taken Nepal-China friendship to a new level. Wen and his team spent four hours in Kathmandu during which they signed over a dozen important agreements with Nepal on different areas of social, economic and cultural cooperation.
The visit was shelved for a while and there is little doubt, directly or indirectly, the immaturity displayed by the Nepali side was at fault. But the government rebounded and through its own initiative, arranged the visit on a short notice. Besides the increase in Chinese aid to Nepal, the visit by the government head of a global superpower has boosted Nepal's international image. So, although a short one, the visit will prove to become a milestone in bilateral relations.
Editorial, 15 January
The Chinese Premier might have spent only four hours in Kathmandu but the length of his stay did not take away the importance of the message that it left behind. This was the first visit by a Chinese PM in a d ecade and it should have been marked by a national celebration. The secrecy surrounding the visit put off many, and some in diplomatic circles even questioned the importance of the visit. Chinese side officially declared it a state visit, thus dousing such speculations.
The political exchanges and agreements during the short trip are more noteworthy than the circumstance in which the visit took place. As soon as he landed, Wen and his team went directly to Singha Darbar where the two countries signed a dozen agreements. As per the agreement, Nepal will receive Rs 9.75 billion rupees in Chinese assistance, and Rs 1.6 billion rupees additional funds for the peace process. More than financial support itself, it is the political significance that explains the Chinese goodwill towards Nepal.
Editorial, 18 January
Our cynical nationalists who like to play India off against China must have learnt a lesson from Wen Jaibao's statement: "Nepal needs to deepen its friendship with India." India is not just our neighbour, but the open border has enabled exchange of culture and traditions. Nepali daughters have been married to our Indian neighbours and their daughters have made homes here too. It is not a relationship that can be terminated at anyone's whim. And yet, there are people who think they can benefit by forcing India and China to fight a proxy war over us. This does not seem to affect India much because it is preoccupied with its economy and upgrading its international status. China understands this and that is why Wen told Nepali leaders to sort things out with India. If China itself wants good relations with India, why do we want them to fight over us? It is clear that using the 'China card' to threaten India no longer works. In fact Nepal's strategic location means we can benefit from greater cooperation between our two neighbours.
Editorial, 15 January
Despite a tight schedule, the Chinese premier took the time to meet the major political stakeholders in Nepal, including leaders of the parties in opposition, during his short stay. Apart from giving continuity to regular support in Nepal's development, China committed to provide Rs 1.6 billion rupees in budgetary aid for the peace process. But more than anything else, it is the Chinese goodwill gesture that has won them affection from Nepalis.
It is unfortunate that the immature diplomacy shown by Nepal's government not only delayed the visit, but the Nepali people could not even welcome the leader of a neighbouring country with flags and flowers on the streets of Kathmandu. Although both the foreign and home ministers visited Beijing to assuage the Chinese about the security situation, China was still wary about anti-Chinese demonstrations. This is the reason why the visit was kept a secret until the last hour.
Nepal has been China's friend in need and barring a few diplomatic glitches, the relationship has stayed cordial and warm. When the world was against China, Nepal was among the few countries that supported the Chinese at the UN. The Chinese understand Nepal's strategic limitations and international human rights commitments on Tibetan refugees issue, but the government must do more to ensure its turf is not used against its neighbour.