Kathmandu, May 18: China has accepted the request of Nepal to link its border areas by establishing railway and road networks as well as between various towns and cities within Nepal. Transport Minister Ramesh Lekhak, who is in Beijing, requested the Chinese government for enhancing road and rail connectivity between both countries.
Nepal’s transport minister Li Xiaopeng said that a new step has started in Nepal’s economic development after its participation in the ambitious One Belt, One Road initiative that aims to link China with European and African markets through Asia.
Earlier, Nepalese Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Kamal Thapa said that Nepal's relationship with India is improving and Nepal can strengthen relations with both China and India. China proposed the establishment of an economic corridor among the three countries to promote trilateral cooperation and common prosperity.
The Kathmandu Post reported that there is a widespread belief that greater connectivity with China can help kick-start economic growth in Nepal. Some sections of the political class also believe that such connectivity will help them build leverage against Indian pressure.
Ever since the 2015 border blockade, there has been a drive to develop greater connectivity with China and to diversify trade away from India. This factor played a major role in Nepal’s decision to join the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
There is no doubt that greater connectivity with China can benefit Nepal. But this will not happen automatically. Nepal needs to take a strategic approach to its interests and great care in not doing anything that upsets the geopolitical equilibrium. While a degree of nationalist approach is important to drum up public support for a common goal, it’s important to not overuse the nationalism card.