8 April 2019: Nepal’s ambassador to China, Leela Mani Paudyal, has dismissed claims that China may possibly be snaring Nepal in a “debt trap” or “regional hegemony” through its growing closeness to the mountain nation.
In a recent interview with Chinese publication Global Times, Mr Paudyal reminded critics that Nepal could take care of its own interest and that Nepal and China have had a trouble-free relationship.
The Nepalese envoy remarked that the two neighbours enjoy a trouble-free relationship because China does not interfere in his country’s internal affairs. The northern neighbour’s programmes in Nepal do not have strings attached, he appeared to suggest.
Drawing example from China’s contribution to Nepal’s reconstruction and rehabilitation in the aftermath of the devastating 2015 earthquake, Mr Paudyal maintained, “China never interferes in our internal affairs. The support that we have received from China until now has no intrusion on our internal affairs.”
Commenting on Nepal’s efforts to access sea routes via Chinese ports, the former chief secretary of Nepal pointed out that getting a transit facility from China is Nepal’s right in accordance with the existing international laws. “Any landlocked country can have the transit right,” he mentioned.
The envoy clarified that in the past the infrastructure to connect Nepal with Chinese seaports was rather inadequate but now the situation has changed thanks to China’s own efforts to connect the Tibet Autonomous Region with rest of the country. As a result, Nepal can now benefit from this enhanced infrastructure within China in order to connect to its seaports because all Nepal has to do is build its own infrastructure towards the Tibetan border.
“We are planning to develop more modern and efficient transport infrastructure across the Nepal-China border including railways. We are confident that we will be able to expedite this task in the near future to make transit facility economically viable and efficient,” Mr Paudyal said during the interview.
He said that connecting with Chinese railway network is like connecting with the rest of the world.