Analysis: Nepal-China agreements

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Chinese President Xi Jinping made a historic two-day visit to Nepal, the first sitting Chinese leader to visit the South Asian nation in more than two decades. Xi was received by Nepalese President Bidhya Devi Bhandari and Prime Minister K. P. Sharma Oli.

Leaders from the two countries signed 20 agreements, 18 memorandums of understanding and two letters of exchange to boost connectivity, trade, economic assistance, and security relations. China and Nepal also agreed to upgrade their ties to a strategic partnership, with Xi vowing to “help Nepal realize its dream of becoming a land-linked country from a land-locked one.”

President Xi also met with the president of the main opposition party Nepali Congress, Sher Bahadur Deuba and co-chair of ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP), Pushpa Kamal Dahal.

23 years ago the Chinese president crossed the Himalayas to visit Nepal. As President Xi rewrote history, his visit to Nepal was in continuation to the informal Summit with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Chennai, Tamil Nadu.

Leaders of the two countries have agreed to align the China-Nepal co-construction of the Belt and Road with Nepal’s national development strategy of building itself a land-linked country.

Nepal-China relations in this area and implications for India:

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s trip to India and Nepal has injected new energy into China’s relations with the two countries, built new platform for good-neighborliness in South Asia, and opened up new prospects for regional practical cooperation.

When Xi visited India, he said that India and China being the two largest developing countries and important representatives of emerging economies are at a critical stage of national development with huge potential for cooperation. He also pointed out that China and India should be good neighbors live in harmony and work together as good partners, and should share a scenario where the dragon and the elephant dance together, which is the only correct choice for the two countries, which serves the fundamental interests of both countries and people, and works for world peace and prosperity.

During Xi’s visit, leaders of India and Nepal once again extended warm congratulations to Xi on the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, expressing their admiration for the remarkable achievements China has made in the past seven decades. Leaders of both countries said China’s development sets an example of self-reliance for developing countries, and creates significant opportunities for the two countries, South Asia and the world to achieve peace and prosperity, adding that China’s development is unstoppable.

Background of international relations in this area:

The relations across the international boundaries of various nations are called the international relations. The relationship between Nepal and the People’s Republic of China are age old and deep rooted. Nepal-China relations have always remained friendly and cordial.

In August 1955 the two countries had formalized their relations when they established diplomatic relations. The relations between the two countries have been marked by friendliness, understanding, mutual support, cooperation and respect for each other’s sensitivities.

Since the re-establishment of democracy in Nepal in 1990, relation between the concerned two countries has developed slowly despite the long-standing friendship between Nepal and China. In recent years, however, the Nepali government has been trying to promote pragmatic cooperation with China. With the signing of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) on cooperation in building the “Belt and Road Initiative (BRI),” the China-Nepal relationship is likely to enter a new era.

Significance of the new deals:

The recent developments between the two nations China and Nepal are going to be very significant.Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport of Nepal and the Ministry of Transport of the People’s Republic of China signed MoU on the feasibility study of China-Nepal Cross-Border Railway project.

Another MoU was signed between the Ministry of Finance of Nepal and the China International Development Cooperation Agency on tunnels construction cooperation.

The other agreements focused on strengthening bilateral cooperation in the field of mutual legal assistance in criminal matters, railroad connectivity, and investment. A few of them also focused on forging a partnership with the government bodies including the Ministries of Home, Foreign Affairs, Physical Infrastructure and Transport, Agriculture and Livestock Development, Industry, Commerce and Supply, and the Kathmandu metropolis. Xi also promised the construction of Rasuwagadhi-Chhare-Kathmandu tunnel and upgradation of Araniko highway.

From Beijing’s perspective, Nepal is important for few strategic reasons, one of which is Nepal borders China’s Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR). Though the largest chunk of Tibetan refugees lives in India, Nepal hosts about 20,000 Tibetan exiles.

In addition to this direct linkage, China also has more general and obvious balance of power considerations in befriending Nepal. As a small South Asian neighbor of India, Nepal affords the opportunity to balance India within the region itself.

A third reason for China’s interests in Nepal is China’s drive to develop the Belt and Road scheme, both as a means of exporting Chinese capital and labor but also expanding its interests. China has discussed several BRI projects with Nepal, including a railroad linking Lhasa and Kathmandu as well as a Parliament building, National Defence University, and other infrastructure projects.

Binding nature of the International treaties in International law:

The treaties are one of the sources of law and thus play a very vital role in understanding the law. The international treaties are the written agreements signed willingly by various nations which are governed by the fundamental rules given under the Vienna Convention of Law of Treaties of 1969.

These treaties have the binding nature on the parties which have signed and ratified the agreements and thus unlike customary laws these are not binding on all States.

Conclusion: Way forward

Nepal and China enjoy a long-standing friendship, Oli told Xinhua in a recent interview. “After the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1955, our friendly ties are continuously getting stronger.” “We two countries are good neighbors, and we are good friends, good brothers and good sisters as well,” said the prime minister.

“We have very good friendship and mutual trust.” Hailing China’s achievements in national construction and socioeconomic development, Oli said that with the rapid development of the Chinese economy, China has become the second largest economy in the world, and its achievements in poverty reduction provide a good model for the entire world. China is playing an increasingly bigger role globally in safeguarding peace, equality and justice, he added.

“We are concentrating ourselves on economic development through the Belt and Road Initiative and other bilateral projects,” Oli said, adding that he hopes the two countries will strengthen cooperation in such areas as roads, railways and aviation, and further explore cooperation in new areas to boost interconnectivity.

Noting that China has become Nepal’s important source of tourists, Oli said he welcomes more Chinese tourists to Nepal next year as the South Asian country hosts “Visit Nepal Year 2020”. So, sharing such an old relation the two countries help out each other and try to develop the international relation between them with the help of different agreements whenever possible. 

This article is brought to you in collaboration with Abhisvara Garg from Lloyd Law College.

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