[PTI] Beijing, Mar 24: Nepalese Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has called China an “all weather friend” that has helped it at times of distress, weeks after China sent fuel supplies to the landlocked Himalayan nation to ease a crippling shortage of goods due to a blockade on Indo-Nepal border.
“China has respected our sovereignty and supported our development endeavours. Our two nations have been all-weather friends, friends at times of distress as well as at the time of comfort,” according to excerpts from Mr Oli’s speech at Renmin University here published in state-run Global Times daily today.
This is the first time Mr Oli has used the phrase “all weather friends” to describe relations between Nepal and China. The phrase has often been used to characterise close Sino-Pakistan ties by both Chinese and Pakistani leaders.
“The time has come to set higher and superior ambitions. Higher than Qomolangma (Mount Everest), and better than the Great Wall. The time has come now to travel together into the united sphere of prosperity,” Mr Oli, currently on a week-long visit to China, was quoted as saying in an article titled ‘Friendship guides Sino-Nepalese relations forward’.
He said that Beijing’s Silk Road initiative will ease obstacles faced by the landlocked Himalayan country.
“The ‘Belt and Road’ (official name for Silk Road) initiative is a principal step to unleash our potentials to travel together into the cooperative sphere of prosperity and to catalyse the convergence of our shared interest,” he said.
“As a friendly neighbour, Nepal has always been well aware of the sensitivities of China. Nepal adheres strongly to the ‘One China Policy’, and has not allowed its land to be used, under any pretext, against China. And it will continue to keep this commitment firm and intact,” he said in an apparent reference to continue to crackdown on dissident Tibetans travelling through Nepal to meet the Dalai Lama who currently resides in Dharamsala.
During his current visit, Mr Oli signed the landmark Transit treaty with China through Tibet which Nepalese officials say opens a new avenue for Nepal which is currently dependent on India to route its imports and exports.
The two countries signed 10 agreements and laid out plans to extend railway line in Tibet to Nepal, which is also looking to access Chinese ports in order to avoid a repetition of severe shortage of essential goods due to blockade of key border trade points with India by Madhesis over the new Constitution.
While Mr Oli avoided any reference to India, a sharply critical article in the same daily accused India of using “forceful measures” to pressurise Mr Oli during his visit to India.
“Though Oli visited India first after becoming Prime Minister, it was marked by ‘distrust and nervousness’. On the contrary ‘his tour in China has been a relaxed one’,” the article said.
“India deems Oli’s first overseas visit to India a perfect victory. But many international relations observers have not shown much approval,” it said.
“India didn’t use a charm offensive or soft power to win Oli’s first state visit, but forceful measures. This is a dated approach, like forcing a weak state to open its gate through heavy gunfire. Such logic is a ticking time bomb in the bilateral relationship between the two countries, which causes damage to their ties every once in a while,” it said.
“Sandwiched between the elephant and the dragon, Nepal is both unfortunate and lucky. Over the issue of security and internal affairs, it often senses pressure from India. But when it comes to economic growth, both of its giant neighbours have brought it many opportunities,” it said.