Speech by Rt. Hon. Mr. Krishna Bahadur Mahara in the Trans-Himalayan Belt and Road International Cooperation Forum at” Trans-Himalaya Belt and Road International Cooperation Forum” of the 4th China-Tibet Tourism and Culture Expo Organized in Lulang Town of Linzhi Municipality of TAR
10 September 2018
The Chair of the Trans-Himalaya Belt and Road
International Cooperation Forum,
Ministers and Distinguished Delegates,
Members of my Delegation,
Friends from Media,
Ladies and Gentlemen
- At the outset, I would like to extend my sincere thanks to the chair and members of the Trans-Himalaya Belt and Road International Cooperation Forum for providing me this opportunity to share my thoughts on the theme “Incorporating Nepal into Belt and Road International Cooperation”. The theme is pertinent for discussion, not because Nepal has joined the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) last year but considerable international attention has been drawn to this noble initiative.
- The relations between Nepal and China have always remained friendly and cordial marked by friendliness, mutual support, understanding, cooperation, and appreciation of each other’s aspirations and respect for each other’s sensitivities. The Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence provide a solid foundation to our bilateral relations. Notwithstanding the high, majestic and mighty Himalayas that connect the two countries, we have overcome all geographical difficulties in further consolidating the age-old ties of friendship and co-operation.
- The root of bilateral contacts date back to the 5th to 7th centuries when the traders passed through these mighty Himalayas, contributing to the exchange of civilization between the two countries. The travelers contributed not only to spread the teachings of Lord Buddha but also Nepali culture and craftsmanship to China and beyond through Tibet, Yunnan, and Sichuan. The relations between our two countries acquired more substance after the establishment of diplomatic relations sixty-three years ago.
- The Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) of China has a special significance in Nepal-China relations from historical perspective as well as present imperative. The historical trade routes, cultural exchanges and political interactions between the two countries were held in or through TAR. The border between our two countries lies in TAR and has several areas to coordinate and cooperate at local levels.
- Nepal and TAR have a long tradition of exchanging visits at various levels, which have remained significant in strengthening ties between Nepal and TAR of China. The increased communication, contacts and cooperation at various levels including senior party leaders, parliamentarians, administrators, business people, artists and ordinary people have helped generate tremendous goodwill towards each other.
- Nepal has gone through a historic political transformation in recent years. After the successful conclusion of elections of all three tiers of federal setup last year, the Constitution of Nepal has been fully operational. The people of Nepal have given the Nepal Communist Party a solid mandate to govern the country. This has paved the way for political stability in the country.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen
- We welcome the Belt and Road initiative, a landmark initiative taken by visionary leader and the President of the People’s Republic of China, His Excellency Xi Jinping with the aim of ‘building a community of a shared future for humanity’ and greater cooperation among nations. I had the pleasure to lead the Nepali delegation to the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing in May 2017 in my capacity then as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance. With growing interest of the international community, the BRI has emerged as one of the most important platforms for international cooperation. This visionary approach offers numerous opportunities of collaboration, partnership and cooperation for mutual benefit.
- The Himalayan Region regarded as roof of the world, is a region inhabited by a population of more than 3 billion that is nearly half of world population. The region is of great significance to the world as it is not only an economy of 1 trillion annual GDP but also a major source of water, energy and with strategic importance to the world. Trans-Himalayan cooperation might offer an opportunity for enhancing the regional cooperation between South Western Part of China and South Asia in addition to helping the development of Belt and Road Initiative. The South Western part of China is gateway to South Asia due to its geographic proximity, cultural and religious similarities.
- I am happy to note that China has made unprecedented strides in socio-economic and technological developments and improved significantly the quality of life of its people. Its willingness to share the fruits of development with neighboring countries for mutual benefits through the BRI is commendable. Advancing of Trans-Himalayan Multi-Dimensional Connectivity Network under the BRI is a common vision reached between the leaders of Nepal and China. The trans-Himalayan connectivity would create more business and trade opportunities in both countries. Nepal and China can work together in promoting economic activities in the Himalayan belt by creating system of value-chains for their mutual advantage. I believe that China’s enormous manufacturing base, advance technology, vast pool of professionals and its huge domestic market together with Nepal’s rich natural resources, geographical and locational advantages, will create a perfect blend for value chain and complement for economic growth.
- The trading routes between our two countries pass through TAR. The Araniko Highway is the historic and first Highway between Nepal and China. As the border of Nepal is connected with TAR of China through Himalayan range, construction of roads and railways for cross border connectivity may require huge investment and efforts. However, with mutual collaboration and cooperation it could be materialized.
- Road and railways connectivity between the two countries may be more ambitious projects in the Trans-Himalayan ranges in view of the difficult topography. I would like to recall that our ancestors from both nations crossed Himalaya for business, trade and socio-cultural relations. In modern age, China has developed robust technology and spectacular engineering prowess that can be explored for developing cross border overland connectivity.
- We consider the tremendous economic success and socio-cultural development achieved by China especially the development and infrastructure construction work in Tibet as an opportunity for us as well. We believe that, after successfully building and safely operating the Qinghai-Tibet Railway for nearly two decades, China’s experience and technical accumulation in plateau railway projects is sufficient to meet the technical needs for railway construction linking Nepal with China. Agreement reached between the two countries on cross-border railway connectivity during the visit of Nepali Prime Minister to China in June this year is a landmark decision in the area of cross border connectivity. We also believe that the concept of Trans-Himalayan Multi-Dimensional Connectivity Network comprising the components of railways, highways, ports, transmission lines and communication linkages across the Himalayas would be significant for opening new vistas of economic engagement in multiple areas and supporting for the livelihood of peoples in the region. For this, we need understanding, collaboration and partnership.
- China is a leading country in global economy, which gives it an important role to play in promoting world peace, development and stability. In this context, we appreciate China’s efforts at forging co-operative links between countries in the region and beyond. We understand the BRI aims at addressing the infrastructural and structural bottlenecks of development. Building cross-border infrastructure is very important for landlocked countries like ours. Moreover, connectivity will help Nepal exploit the full potentials of its economic possibilities. At the same time, it will also help cement our ties through enhanced people-to-people relations.
- Tourism is one the areas with huge potential in which the both countries and people could cooperate and benefit. The Government of Nepal has announced to mark 2020 as “Visit Nepal Year” with the goal of welcoming two million tourists each year. In order to realize this goal, we need collaboration and cooperation of the Chinese government and travel/tour operators for further encouraging potential Chinese tourists to visit Nepal. I would also like to call upon the Chinese business community and entrepreneurs to invest more in tourism sector in Nepal.
- Nepal has now entered into a new era of peace and socio-economic development. Economic growth and prosperity of people are our topmost national agenda ahead. Our investment policies are friendly for Chinese investors. There are numerous untapped areas for investment in Nepal such as infrastructure construction, hydropower, hotel business, information and technology, and health and education where Chinese entrepreneurs and business community can secure decent profit.
- Finally, I believe the discussions and deliberations in the Trans-Himalaya Belt and Road International Cooperation Forum would yield pragmatic suggestions and inputs for mutual cooperation between the two countries in the days to come. With these words, I conclude here.