Chinese Communist Party’s international department chief is arriving on Sunday amid talks about a possible left alliance and Nepal’s perceived tilt towards the West.

Top-level Chinese visit piques curiosity about its purpose

He is visiting Kathmandu at a time when there are talks about a possible electoral alliance among Nepal’s communist parties.

The largest communist party, the CPN-UML, is the main opposition, while another, CPN (Maoist Centre), is a partner in the ruling coalition led by the Nepali Congress.

The two leftist parties had merged in May 2018 to form the Nepal Communist Party (NCP) but it fell apart after months-long infighting. They broke up in March last year after a Supreme Court order. The Chinese had made unsuccessful attempts to save the unity.

After replacing Song Tao as the head of the International Liaison Department of the Communist Party of China, Liu had in the last week of June interacted with Maoist Centre chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal and UML chair KP Sharma Oli, continuing the trend of his predecessor.

Soon after taking charge last month, Liu had interacted with Foreign Minister Narayan Khadka. According to party leaders and experts, he is coming to Kathmandu with a couple of objectives, according to politicians and experts.

The Chinese delegation will meet with President Bidya Devi Bhandari, Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, Foreign Minister Khadka, Oli, Dahal and other leaders and will assess how possible it is to reunite the communist forces in Nepal, according to two leaders.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu are making logistical arrangements for the visit, said one official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Liu’s visit comes at a time when Nepal is heading towards federal and provincial elections and the Election Commission has already proposed holding both the elections in a single page on November 18.

Like in 2017, this time too, the Chinese are still weighing the possibility of a unity among the communist forces, a UML leader who has interacted frequently with Chinese leaders, said.

“A possible agenda of the visit could be to encourage a pre- or post-poll alliance between like-minded lefties forces or only between the UML and the Maoist Centre,” the UML leader added citing informal talks with Chinese diplomats, politicians and officials.

Countering the notion, Rajan Bhattarai, chief of the Foreign Affairs Department of the UML, however, said that external forces have no role in internal affairs of Nepali communist parties.

“If outsiders had united the leftist forces in Nepal, why did the Nepali communist parties split?” he wondered.

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