China assures rail link with Nepal

खातमांडू Khatmandu: China has expressed its readiness to extend its rail network to the Nepal border, urging Nepal to conduct a feasibility study for the same within its territory.

During bilateral talks in Kathmandu on Friday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi agreed to expand the railway up to Kerung. He urged Nepal to conduct a feasibility study so that the railway could be extended to Kathmandu and beyond.

According to a communiqué posted on the Chinese foreign ministry’s website on Saturday, China is willing to extend the line from Shigatse to the Nepali territory. China had agreed in principle to extend the Qinghai-Tibet Railway to Nepal.

“During the talks, the Chinese side asked us to conduct a feasibility study if Nepal wants the network expanded into its territory,” Foreign Minister Mahendra Bahadur Pandey, who led the Nepali side in the talks, told the Post.

Nepal has yet to formally propose with China for the extension of the Chinese rail up to the Nepal border.

The Qinghai-Tibet Railway reached Shigatse in August. With the 253-km track linked to Tibet’s second city, the high-elevation railway has reached closer to Nepal.

Shigatse is 540 km from Kerung, the nearest Chinese town from Nepal. The bordering Nepali district of Rasuwa is 35 km from there. Officials said there is the possibility of Chinese assistance for expanding the rail network within the Nepali territory.

During the meeting, the Chinese side also promised to build an alternative cargo route from Rasuwagadhi to Kathmandu. The central government in Beijing is said to be considering these two proposals. Both the sides agreed to make optimum use of Araniko Highway to ensure smooth passage of goods while they agreed to increase the number of flights between the two countries.

In the field of tourism, China would continue to encourage its citizens to travel to Nepal while it welcomed Nepalis to Tibet-Kailash- Mansarovar pilgrimage. China also proposed to establish Chinese cultural centres in Nepal and invited 100 young Nepalis to visit the Confucius Institute in China.

According to the Chinese foreign ministry, China is willing to help Nepal to carry out preliminary planning and study for establishing Special Economic Zones and to encourage Chinese enterprises to invest in Nepal for the creation of industrial parks.

Besides, China would assist in Nepal’s bid for industrialisation and human resource enhancement. In agriculture, the Chinese side offered to share technology and explore further possibilities of help in rice, livestock and organic farming. China assured to encourage its enterprises to participate in infrastructure development particularly in Nepal’s hydropower sector, airports and highways. It decided to set up a joint laboratory to look into climate change and environmental effects in Nepal.

“China is also willing to increase training in all aspects of Nepali talent. Next year, we will provide 500 training slots for Nepal in various fields under the Excellence Scholarship framework,” read the communiqué.

“China is willing to strengthen coordination and cooperation with Nepal on major international issues.”