China concerned over Nepal PM’s maiden India visit

Kathmandu, Jan 18 (IANS) Ahead of Nepalese Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli’s maiden India visit, China has apparently expressed concern over it, diplomatic sources here said.

Earlier, there was expectation that Oli would embark on a maiden visit to China before India due to unrest in southern Nepal’s Tarai region and blockage of essential commodities’ supply from India.

In a meeting between Chinese Vice Minister for international relations Chen Fengxian and Nepalese minister Agni Sapkota in Beijing on Sunday, Chen inquired about Oli’s upcoming India visit and how it was going.

Mentioning about his meeting with Chen, Sapkota said: “During my meeting with Chinese vice minister, he asked me about the upcoming visit of Prime Minister K.P. Oli to India.”

Chen also asked when the visit was taking place, he added.

“In response, I told the Chinese vice minister that we are holding talks with the Indian side in respect to the visit,” Sapkota said on Monday here upon his return from China.

This concern was especially raised from Chinese side after speculation was rife in Kathmandu that Oli may break the tradition of visiting India first than China.

Nepalese prime ministers upon assuming office usually have started their foreign trips from India and later visited other countries.

Diplomatic sources said Chinese side will also raise the same kind of concern over Prime Minister Oli’s maiden visit to India with Nepal’s Finance Minister Bishnu Poudel who is currently in Beijing.

Though the dates of Oli’s visit to India are yet to be announced, officials said he would visit China only after India.

Chinese officials were almost sure that breaking the age-old tradition, Prime Minister Oli, a career Leftist leader who became the prime minister with the support of Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), would visit China first and not India.

But in a turn of events, Oli favoured a visit to India first to ease the protest in Tarai and a political deal between ruling parties and agitating Madhesi Morcha. This has paved the way for his India visit first.

The Chinese side was doing necessary preparation to sign several understandings and agreements like bilateral investment promotion and protection act, trade and transit treaty, free trade agreement, agreement on super voltage cross-border transmission line, and promotion of tourism and many others.

The Chinese side also hinted there could be high-level visit from China in 2016 at the level of the president and premier and inquired about the condition of roads in Nepal and availability of hotels.

In connection of Oli’s upcoming China visit, Indian Ambassador Ranjit Rae held a meeting with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Kamal Thapa on Monday.

For more than four months, the plains of the Nepal Terai have been simmering with Morcha-led protests against the country’s new Constitution that was adopted by the Constituent Assembly on September 20.

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