Nepal and China had established their diplomatic relations sixty-five years to the day on August 1, 1955, opening a new chapter in their age-old bonhomie. Both the nations had emerged from their internal political turmoil and gained independence so they collectively decided to develop their relations based on new foreign policy principles and values which would reflect the spirit of changes and aspirations of their people. In their joint communiqué, they expressed commitment to Panchsheel (five principles of peaceful coexistence) which stresses non-interference, equal treatment and mutual respect for each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. It reinforces a model of peaceful coexistence between the two countries of different size.
Sixty-five years on, the bilateral relations have gone from strength to strength because their bond is based on political trust, support to each other on issues concerning respective core interests and mutual economic cooperation. The cordial ties are not only confined to the government-to-government layer but also to the people-to-people level, with growing exchanges of high level visits, connectivity, trade, tourism and education programmes. China has extended economic cooperation to Nepal in different areas ranging from infrastructure development to reconstruction of structures damaged by the earthquake and hydropower development to education, culture, trade, security and governance system. Nepal has on its part adhered to One-China policy that prohibits any anti-Chinese activities on Nepali soil.
In 2016, Nepal and China inked a historic Transport and Transit Agreement that transformed Nepal from the land-locked country to a land-linked one. Nepal has now access to seven Chinese sea and land ports, enabling it to carry out trade with third countries. In 2017, Nepal joined Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a global development endeavour launched by Chinese President Xi Jinping. In March last year, President Bidya Devi Bhandari visited China while her Chinese counterpart, Xi, reciprocated it by paying a state visit to the Himalayan nation in October 2019 after a gap of 23 years. The visits of two presidents elevated the bilateral relationship to a strategic partnership for cooperation featuring ever-lasting friendship.
In his message delivered on the 65th anniversary of diplomatic ties, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli said that Nepal-China bilateral ties had been developing in a stable and healthy way. While appreciating China's support in anti-epidemic efforts, he said he was looking forward to working closely with China for economic recovery. Likewise, Chinese President Xi said that he attached great importance to the development of China-Nepal relations and was willing to work with his Nepali counterpart, Bhandari, to bring greater benefits to the two peoples and make positive contributions to regional stability and development.
Nepal and China have helped each other in the difficult moments. China had lent humanitarian support to Nepal during the 2015 earthquake and ensuing economic embargo. In order to effectively fight the COVID-19 pandemic, the two nations are working closely. China provided medical supplies to Nepal to ease its battle against the deadly virus disease. In early February when the coronavirus hit hard China’s central city of Wuhan, Nepal’s government and people expressed their strong solidarity with the Chinese government and the people, sending face masks and letters of sympathy to the people of Wuhan. Let’s hope that this spirit of bilateral cooperation will further expand and deepen in the years to come.