Despite the fact that Nepal was hailed as a major pillar in China’s mammoth Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), project execution in the Himalayan State has been delayed due to a lack of understanding about the benefits and funding constraints.

During a recent visit (March 25-27) of Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi to Nepal, the two countries signed nine agreements, but none was related to the BRI. The BRI plans were reportedly not discussed during Wang’s visit, with Nepal insisting on threadbare negotiations on the issue.

There is an apprehension among the Nepalese policy makers regarding the BRI, including China’s strategic designs through BRI and its potential of creating a debt trap, Kathmandu-based sources .

Nepalese Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba requested Wang for additional grants. He noted that “a loan is not what Nepal prefers at this point” and sought more projects from China under the grant assistance.

During negotiations coinciding with Wang’s visit, the Nepalese side insisted that if a loan had to be applied for, it should be a “soft or concessional loan”.

China experts believe that implementation of BRI projects in Nepal had been relatively slow, perhaps due to multiplicity of agreements signed between the two countries in various areas without much clarity or commitment for their implementation.