China’s top leadership led by President Xi Jinping on Saturday hailed the continuing growth of Sino-Nepal friendship, saying that Beijing has always treated Kathmandu fairly in the light of New Delhi’s disquiet over the increasing relations of its smaller South Asian neighbor to the Middle Kingdom.
Exchanging congratulatory messages with Nepalese counterpart Bidhya Devi Bhandari on the 65th year anniversary of establishing bilateral ties, Xi said China will work with Nepal to “push for continued advancement of the bilateral relationship”.
Xi, according to a statement published in official media on Saturday morning, said the two countries have “…always respected each other, treated each other as equals, enhanced political mutual trust and deepened mutually beneficial cooperation.”
Xi said the two sides have stuck together through “thick and thin and stood shoulder to shoulder in the fight against the Covid-19 outbreak and have written a new chapter of friendship between China and Nepal.”
In her message, Bhandari echoed Beijing’s – and President Xi’s — often publicised rhetoric on international cooperation.
Nepal welcomes the “China-proposed vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind and actively participates in the cooperation on the co-building of the Belt and Road,” she said.
Separately, Premier Li Keqiang talked about enhanced “mutual trust and friendship” between China and Nepal with his counterpart, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli.
China is willing to work with Nepal to enhance all-encompassing cooperation in various fields and to develop a high-quality joint Belt and Road Initiation and to bring bilateral relations to a new level, Li said.
In his message of congratulations, Oli said that since the establishment of diplomatic ties, bilateral relations have undergone a sustained, secure and sound growth.
In the center of the broader Sino-India rivalry in the region, Kathmandu finds itself in the midst of an exchange of delights between Nepal and China.
In June, Nepal revised map of the country, including three areas it disputes with India within its own boundary.
The two countries contest the Lipulek Pass, the Kalapani Pass and the Limpiyadhura Pass at the frontier between India and Nepal.
Defense Minister Rajnath Singh recently opened an 80-km road to Lipulekh Pass.
It was designed in such a way that pilgrims going to Kailash-Mansarovar could avoid risky high-altitude routes via Sikkim and Nepal.
The New Delhi interpretation is that Kathmandu’s latest belligerence over the old conflict was at the implicit behest of China.
Indian Army Chief Gen. MM Naravane said that Kathmandu objected to the newly constructed Indian road near the disputed region at the behest of “someone else.”
In June, a politically weakened Oli believed that India was plotting with his political rivals to drive him out of control.
Oli has recently stirred up another controversy by asserting that the “real” Ayodhya is not in India, but in Nepal.
Last Monday, in its latest attempt to improve collaboration with South Asian countries, China urged Nepal, in addition to Pakistan and Afghanistan, to participate in “four-party cooperation” in the battle against the Coronavirus pandemic and to start building projects under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), including the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the Trans-Himalayan Multidimensional Connectivity Project with Kathmandu.
(With inputs from HT)