Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has said that he values promotion of friendship rather than material benefits during high-level visits involving two sovereign countries. Talking to the editors of The Rising Nepal and Gorkhapatra dailies at his official residence in Baluwatar on Thursday, PM Oli responded to queries about Chinese President Xi Jinping’s forthcoming visit to Nepal. The proposed visit holds great significance. The visit is expected to be a milestone for taking the bilateral relations to a newer height. Although the date for Xi’s visit is yet to be announced, he is likely to be in Kathmandu in mid-October. The top-level visit is taking place after a gap of 23 years. Jiang Zemin was the last Chinese President to visit Nepal in 1996. The erstwhile Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao paid a visit to Nepal in 2012. Since then, no such high-profile visit has been made from the Chinese side. From Nepal, President Bidya Devi Bhandari made her sojourn to China in April to attend the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation and the International Horticultural Exhibition 2019.
PM Oli paid an official visit to China in June 2018. He had separate delegation-level talks with Chinese President Xi and Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing. During the talks, both sides held in-depth discussions covering all aspects of bilateral relations and reaffirmed their commitments to further widen and deepen the ties for mutual benefits. Similarly, Vice President Nanda Bahadur Pun visited the northern neighbour in September 2018 to attend the 17th Western China International Fair in Chengdu of Sichuan Province. During recent exchange of high-level visits, the two countries have reached deals on developing traditional friendship between the two friendly nations, enhancing Belt and Road cooperation, constructing trans-Himalayan Multi-Dimensional Connectivity Network. It needs no mention that China has made tremendous economic development during the past 70 years. When China opened up to foreign trade and investment and implementing free-market reforms in 1979, the country has been among the world’s fastest-growing economies, with real annual gross domestic product (GDP) growth averaging 9.5 per cent through 2018. The World Bank has termed this pace as the fastest sustained expansion by a major economy in history. Such growth has facilitated the country to raise around 800 million people out of poverty.
Prime Minister Oli has emphasised the need to nurture friendship since nothing was comparable with the value of friendship. He said that his focus during the high-level visit would be on boosting multidimensional relationship between countries, governments, leaders and peoples. He added that material benefits would happen at the next level following the promotion of friendship. He stated that in friendship, there was no need to make calculations about profit and loss. He is in favour of fostering mutual friendship in which both sides stand to benefit. As he mentioned, Nepal must collaborate with her neighbours and other friendly nations for boosting trade, investment and technology transfer. It is needless to say that Nepal’s trade deficit with most of the nations, including China and India, has continued to widen over the years. Therefore, the country should focus on cooperation in those areas, which would naturally grow on its own following the bonds of friendship.