Asia |Analysis

China-Nepal railway project gains momentum after party congress

China and Nepal have had several rounds of talks, both formal and informal, about possible cross-border railway connectivity under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Until recently, the talks had made little headway.

In May, at a bilateral meeting in Beijing, Chinese Vice-premier Wang Yang had told Nepal’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara that China would provide financial support for the construction of the cross-border railway link. After that, both sides had even designated focal persons for expediting the process to kick-start the project, according to

There were further meetings between China and Nepal in September – when Mahara of Nepal had a bilateral delegation-level meeting with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi while visiting Beijing.

Both sides reiterated their commitment to agreements on developing cross-border economic and transport links, according to the South China Morning Post.  But there didn’t appear to be concrete steps taken toward establishing a cross-border railway link between the neighbors.

Then China held the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party, where the country amended the constitution to incorporate Chinese President Xi Jinping’s “Belt and Road Initiative.” The initiative is a massive infrastructure project aimed at connecting China with Asia and Europe.

Soon after, there was movement. A high-level Chinese delegation led by the Deputy Administrator of the National Railway Administration Zheng Jian arrived in Nepal in early November to carry out the inspection on technical viability of the railway, according to the Kathmandu Post.

It reported that the 23-member delegation – which included officials from China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Transport, members of National Commission, representatives of banks and contractors – visited Kathmandu and areas along the China-Nepal border.

China’s National Railway Administration told officials in Nepal that Beijing has made developing the cross-border railway a high priority, according to Xinhua, China’s state-run news agency.  However, Xinhua reported that Chinese officials acknowledged the project will be challenging.

Still, the developments hint that the Belt and Road Initiative has gathered new momentum after the Communist Party Congress. It could indicate that China is likely increase its engagement with nearby countries to move the initiative into the implementation phase in the next five years.


Talk (8)

Sangeet Sangroula

Sangeet Sangroula

"Thanks for your suggestions. I shall ..."
Peter Bale

Peter Bale

"It's certainly a big topic. We have w..."

jeffrey hamilton

"Perhaps you should consider India’s..."
Sangeet Sangroula

Sangeet Sangroula

"Thanks Cassandra. I feel like I can l..."

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He is a Nepali journalist attached with Republica Daily, Nepal. Interested in Asian affairs, particularly South Asian. Twitter: @SangeetJourno Email: [email protected]

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14 November 2017

12:49:43, 14 Nov 2017 . . China-Nepal railway project gains momentum after party congress . .‎ Cassandra Vinograd (talk | contribs)‎ (updated → minor edits, cuts opinion grafs at bottom)

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    Perhaps you should consider India’s response to China’s quest to influence (or is that dominate) very small and weak nation-states.
    Will this escalate regional tensions between China & India?

    What is the goal of the cross-border railway?

    Will the workers primarily be unemployed Chinese from the very poor regions of central China?

    Will this permit the Chinese to move military units closer to India?

    Has the author read any of the essays cited below?

    The author sees that: “Still, the developments hint that the Belt and Road Initiative has gathered new momentum after the Communist Party Congress.”
    What data supports this supposition?

    Nepal and Pakistan have both pulled out of infrastructure projects with China in the past week. We should scrutinize both of these developments, particularly the one pertaining to Pakistan, which has been very close to China in recent years
    Geopolitical Futures, Watch List, 20 November 2017

    “If China and India were to fight over a disputed border region, it would be in Nepal or Tibet; Doklam is political grandstanding.”
    Jacob L. Shapiro, India’s One Belt, One Road-Block, GPF, 26 January 2018

    “China’s One Belt, One Road, a much-touted initiative to connect the country with Europe, the Middle East, Africa and other parts of Asia, is facing resistance from states whose cooperation Beijing needs to build its highly ambitious infrastructure projects. Last week, Pakistan and Nepal both pulled out of deals to build dams with China because of disagreements over the terms of the deals.”
    Kamran Bokhari, Chinas One Belt, One Road Faces Pushback, 21 November 2017, GPF

    “Also last week, Nepal announced that it would scrap a $2.5 billion deal with Chinese state firm China Gezhouba Group to develop the Budhi Gandaki hydroelectric project. The hydroelectric plant would have generated 1,200 megawatts of electricity. The deal was signed last June – less than a month after Nepal agreed to participate in OBOR – by the pro-Beijing Maoist-dominated government in charge at the time.”
    Kamran Bokhari, Chinas One Belt, One Road Faces Pushback, 21 November 2017, GPF

    1. Rewrite

      Thanks for your suggestions. I shall tey to write news keeping in mind the questions in the coming days. Please keep us commenting so that we can also improve.

    2. It’s certainly a big topic. We have what I consider to be a very good investigative piece coming shortly on China in the Pacific. If I can find a way to do more on the Belt & Road with the resources we have I will. It is fascinating and risky all at the same time.

  2. Rewrite

    Thanks for this story. Think it could be made stronger if you’re able to go back in and add some links to reinforce the arguments you’re making — particularly about how the project appeared to be stalled.

    Same for these two paragraphs below — they read a bit like an “Opinion” piece or Op-Ed without attribution, links or quotes. Have cut the below paragraphs for now.

    “Given this, the only important thing now remains is that the Belt and Road countries like Nepal should also show equal sincerity and eagerness to cease the unprecedented opportunities China-led BRI provides and pave way for common development. Otherwise, it would be yet another story of missed opportunity to better future.

    In case of Nepal, the Chinese side has agreed in principle to provide technical as well as financial support to Nepal for the construction of a cross-border railway link that would link Kyirong, Tibet with Kathmandu, Pokhara and Lumbini (three cities of Nepal). The Nepali government should officially move forward the project, which Nepali Foreign Ministry officials say, will spread the positive message and encourage Chinese authorities to expedite the project.”

    1. Rewrite

      Thank you so much. I feel like I can learn so many things from here. I shall work hard next time. Now I have a little bit of idea. I shall put your suggestions into consideration. Please keep sending useful advises. Thanks. Really appreciate your editing.

      1. Rewrite

        Thank *you* for submitting the piece! If you add more links, etc we’ll be able to see the updates and publish them live.

          1. Rewrite

            Thanks Cassandra. I feel like I can learn what news writing is my contributing to Wikitribune.

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