China and Nepal on Monday signed 12 agreements, including seven MoUs, to enhance bilateral cooperation in various sectors including trade and road connectivity coinciding with the visit of Nepalese Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal "Prachanda" amid reports that he was not inclined to sign up Beijing’s new security doctrine.
Prachanda who met President Xi Jinping two days ago on the sidelines of the Asian Games in Hangzhou travelled to Beijing where he held wide-ranging talks with Chinese Premier Li Qiang on Monday during which they comprehensively reviewed the bilateral relations and expressed satisfaction over the close and cordial ties, according to a press release issued by the Nepal embassy in Beijing.
The two sides exchanged views on the ways to further strengthen and consolidate the mutual understanding and cooperation and give a new impetus to the economy, trade and people-to-people contacts, it said.
Reports from Kathmandu said Prachanda was sidestepping China’s pressure to welcome Xi’s new doctrines, the Global Security Initiative (GSI) and its Global Civilisation Initiative (GCI).
Before leaving for China’s Hangzhou, in an interview in New York with Kantipur daily, Prachanda had categorically denied the chances of Nepal joining a security-related alliance, The Kathmandu Post reported on Monday.
Speaking in the context of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) during the interview, the prime minister stated that China is initiating the GSI, the GCI and the Global Development Initiative (GDI) and among these, there is no hesitation to participate in the GDI.
“But we cannot wade into security-related issues. It is our stated policy not to be under the umbrella of any side. Ours is a non-aligned foreign policy. On the other hand, we are saying the American Indo-Pacific Strategy and State Partnership Program are part of security initiatives. If we are not taking part in one initiative [IPS, SPP], we cannot join others too,” Prachanda said.
The GSI, GDI and GCI were conspicuously missing from the official Chinese media account of the Li-Prachanda talks.
Li told Prachanda that China will, as always, firmly support Nepal in safeguarding national independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity and taking a development path that suits its national conditions, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
Li said that China is ready to work with Nepal to continuously improve connectivity at ports, roads, railways, aviation, telecommunications and electricity, accelerate the construction of the Trans-Himalayan Multi-Dimensional Connectivity Network, and help Nepal, a landlocked country, upgrade connectivity with neighbouring countries as soon as possible.
Prachanda, who politically distanced from the pro-China Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) headed by KP Oli after becoming Prime Minister in December last year, made his maiden visit to China after visiting India and the US.
Following the official bilateral talks, 12 agreements were signed between the two countries, the Nepalese embassy said.
The agreements include an MoU for Cooperation between The National Planning Commission of Nepal and China's National Development and Reform Commission; an MoU on enhancing digital economy cooperation; an MoU related to cooperation on green and low-carbon development; and an MoU on cooperation in the field of agriculture, livestock and fisheries, the release said.
The two sides also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the establishment of a Joint Technical Working Group for the review and modification of the Nepal-China trade and payment agreement.
They also signed a protocol of phytosanitary requirements for the export of plant-derived medicinal materials for Chinese medicine from Nepal to China.
China and Nepal also signed MoUs on the Hilsa-Simkot Road Project and the Nepal- China Power Grid Interconnection Project (Chilime-Kerung).
The other agreements include cooperation in the fields of science, technology and innovation; and in the field of Human Resources Development, the release said.
Prachanda also met with National People's Congress Chairman Zhao Leji during which they focused on further broadening the historical ties between Nepal and China and promoting exchange of high-level visits, it said.
Prachanda has directly flown to China from New York, where he addressed the 78th General Assembly of the United Nations.
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