Nepal-China OBOR cooperation: An opportunity for Nepal
From October 2013 until today, China has gradually made banners in global news of “One Belt One Road” initiative. OBOR topic has been spreading everywhere. OBOR is fascinating; authors, academicians, politician and media’s persons are highly participating allied to the “One Belt One Road”.
Actually, the term ‘One Belt, One Road’ in short applies ‘Belt & Road’. In 2013, China’s president Xi Jinping had announced Silk Route Economic Belt (SREB) and 21stcentury Maritime Silk Route (MSR) during his various state visits. ‘Belt & Road’ is the common word of 21st century Maritime Silk Route (MSR) and Silk Route Economic Belt (SREB).
While our northern neighbor ‘China’ is trying to make the global connection, we should not do adjournment to take an opportunity from the global enterprise. But the big question is- how many people here know the benefits of the Belt and Road? Nepal should prioritize the Belt and Road initiative. Undoubtedly Belt and Road can play a vital role in steering Nepal's development pace.
In the past 2 years, neither a big politician nor academician was seriously involved in this initiative. Only a few numbers of people were keeping an open opinion by writing a piece of article and seminar. Is that enough for the Belt and Road? Definitely not. Now time has come that people must understand OBOR’s framework, plan, and background. How can Nepal take maximum benefits from the Belt and Road? Our state leaders must think seriously about this topic.
The government should give the highest importance to Nepal’s development and OBOR can be a new door for our bright future. We should not delay in taking benefits from the Belt and Road initiative. Belt and Road are joint construction for the mutual benefits. For this, the government must keep open free space for expert and academician to set up Nepal’s vision and mission. One day, Nepal may become an economic zone for south-Asian market by connecting belt and road. Obviously ‘Belt & Road’ will establish a large Asia-Europe economic zone.
OBOR global summit schedule has been finalized for May 14-15 in Beijing, China. Deputy prime minister and others ministers will participate in this OBOR global summit and Nepal will sign the protocol on the Belt and Road initiative very soon.
Belt and Road initiative is an opportunity for the Nepal. China has focused Belt and Road initiative as per their five major goals which are policy coordination, facilities connectivity, unimpeded trade, financial integration and people to people bonds.
Nepal’s access to Chinese seaport
Nepal is Land-Locked developing country (LLDC). Since our history, Nepal has been completely depending on India for the access to seaport. While LLDCs consider their free access to the nearest seaport through a transit country as a natural right but India always does bargain with Nepal. Due to the lack of road and railway link, Nepal has no another option for transit. India has been raising the transit issue for only political influence but has forgotten Nepal’s natural right to access the nearest seaport.
From the ‘Belt & Road’, Nepal can get access to nearest Chinese seaport. Tianjin port is located 3000 km away from Nepal. Of course Tianjin port is not very close to Nepal like the India’s sea port but we don’t have the option because we are the landlocked country. After the rail link, Nepal can use Tianjin seaport without any difficulty. Tibetan railway line is not too far from the Kathmandu. In simple word by ‘Belt & Road’ initiative, Nepal can reduce dependency to India. After the Sino-Nepal transit trade signed during Oli’s visit in last year, new trade door has been opened for Nepal.
In 2015, India has imposed an unofficial blockade on Nepal. Due to Indian’s unofficial blockade, Nepal had extremely suffered from a major shortage of fuel, medicine, and other goods. Indian blockades were just after the major earthquake and had made a humanitarian crisis in Nepal.
Trilateral Strategic Cooperation
Last year, Nepal had proposed trilateral strategic cooperation and partnership with China and India in a meeting between leaders of the three countries at the sidelines of the BRICS summit in Goa, India. Obviously, Nepal can become a Himalayan land-bridge between central and southeast Asia. But both our northern and southern neighbors must come out from the unhealthy competition and border disputes. In 2015, China had also suggested India for China-Nepal-India economic corridor.
Nepal is sharing borders with China and India. China and India are Nepal’s close neighbors and are linked by history, culture, mountains and rivers. If China, Nepal, and India connect by rail and roads then it could be the most important landmark of trilateral strategic cooperation. Nepal is a pivotal land for Hindu and Buddhist tourists. Sooner or later China-Nepal-India must be work together. By working trilateral strategic cooperation, China and India may reduce the coldness and unhealthy competition.
Undoubtedly, ‘Belt and Road’ can play a vital role in steering the Nepal’s development pace. It is an opportunity for us. OBOR is not limited to rail, road, and seaport, it has many significances from both countries’ perspective. Sustainable development is our bottom line and it has become a global agenda.
It is necessary to expand our highways and roads north to south. For a fine example, the Koshi economic corridor can assimilate between the eastern region of Nepal with Tibet, Sikkim, and Darjeeling. The Bagmati economic corridor can link up with Tibet and Bihar.
Belt & Road initiative is not simply about rail and road, it is also related to Nepal’s development and prosperity. It is more about prompting significant changes in the structure of the development and economy.