Li Zhanshu, the head of China’s legislature and the third-ranked leader in the country’s political hierarchy, arrived in Kathmandu on Monday.
The visit of a Chinese official comes amid concerns in Beijing over the US’ rising influence in Nepal where the country is revamping election preparations.
Li arrived in Nepal on a three-day visit on Monday at the invitation of Speaker Sapkota. Sources said that Speaker Sapkota and Li held bilateral talks at the federal parliament building in Naya Baneshwor following which a six-point Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the parliament of Nepal and the Chinese People’s Congress on inter-parliamentary cooperation. China has assured that it will clear all containers destined for Nepal before the festive season in Nepal which is a few weeks away.
During the bilateral talks, the two sides expressed happiness over the excellent state of bilateral relations and cooperation subsisting between Nepal and China and held discussions on different matters of mutual interest. Speaker Sapkota reiterated Nepal’s commitment to One-China Policy and not to allow any activity against China in Nepali territory, according to a press release issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday. During his stay in Nepal, Li will call on President Bidya Devi Bhandari and meet Prime Minister Deuba, Chairperson of the National Assembly Ganesh Prasad Timilsina, Minister for Foreign Affairs Narayan Khadka, Former prime minister and Chairman of Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) K P Sharma Oli, and former prime minister and CPN-Maoist Centre chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal.
The visit just before the poll may be just a coincidence. However, the frequent visits by Chinese officials indicate that China is concerned about the growing influence of the US over Nepal, especially after it succeeded in getting Nepal’s approval for the $500 million ‘Millennium Challenge Corporation agreement. As China is looking forward to a growing stronghold in South Asia, its leaders will use every opportunity in their favor in terms of geopolitics. Nepali leaders should also utilize this high-level visit and focus on opening the border and clearing all containers destined for Nepal before the festive season in Nepal which is a few weeks away.
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