Source: Global Times Published: 2019-10-11
Nepalese people and officials are prepared and thrilled for the upcoming visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping, and hope the visit starting Saturday will lift bilateral ties and enhance exchanges in infrastructure, tourism and culture.
While travelling around Kathmandu, the capital city, the Global Times found that welcome banners saying "Long Live Nepal-China Friendship" and "Warm Welcome to Our Distinguished Chinese Guests" lined the city's main streets.
Local residents told the Global Times flowers were planted to decorate the roads, and the roads were rebuilt and cleaned to welcome the Chinese president. "People are busy preparing for the big day," one resident said.
"We've been waiting for President Xi's visit, the first in 23 years, for years," Mani, a resident told the Global Times. "Now he's truly coming here, and we are 'all out' for his visit with a hearty welcome and enthusiasm."
"I hope President Xi could share with us his wisdom on how to govern our country better," Suraz, a tour guide in Kathmandu, told the Global Times on Friday.
Local media said preparations for Xi's visit have been "in full swing."
A Kathmandu Metropolitan City spokesperson also said flags would be placed along the roads. He said students will be carrying national flags to welcome President Xi when he arrives, according to media reports.
A signed article by the Chinese president, entitled Toward Greater Progress of China-Nepal Friendship across the Himalayas, was a headline story on Nepal's national newspaper Gorkhapatra Sansthan on Friday, stressing that "China and Nepal are good brothers who always stand alongside each other" and vowing to deepen strategic communication, broaden practical cooperation, expand people-to-people exchanges and enhance security cooperation.
Xi's visit is being awaited with "great eagerness and profound interest" by the entire Nepalese people, which is expected to uplift Nepal-China relations to a new height as well as showcase the collective zeal to work together for the common good of the people of both sides and the region as a whole, Sundar Nath Bhattarai, founder president of the Association of Former Career Ambassadors of Nepal and the founder member of China Study Center and Its Officiating Chairman, told the Global Times.
Ties between the two countries have been solid and firm with mutual trust and respect. Since China and Nepal signed a Memorandum of Understanding on bilateral cooperation within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative in May 2017, bilateral cooperation has been fruitful. Chinese enterprises have undertaken a number of infrastructure projects and post-disaster reconstruction work.
Chinese companies in Nepal involved in contracting, investment, communication and aviation have become the main force behind the Nepal engineering contracting market, Zhu Qingjun, secretary general of Chinese Enterprise Association in Nepal, told the Global Times.
"We look forward to the high-level visits by our leaders to Nepal. This will not only promote relations between the two countries, but also enhance the friendship between the Chinese and Nepalese. I hope that this high-level visit can enhance political relations between the two countries and expand the opportunities for all-round bilateral cooperation, especially in cross-border interconnection," Zhu said.
Zhu added that Chinese companies see abundant opportunities in energy, cross-border connectivity, trade and tourism in Nepal.
Nepalese experts, officials and scholars are also anticipating the visit, saying they truly hope the trip, the first by a Chinese leader to Nepal since 1996, could lift bilateral relations, strengthen friendship and enhance cooperation in all sectors under the Belt and Road Initiative.
"Nepal looks to China not only as its close immediate neighbor, but also as a country with a rising global leadership role and with various important initiatives that President Xi has launched, like an epoch-making Belt and Road Initiative which is aimed at promoting a shared future for mankind with win-win reciprocity," said Bhattarai.
"We strongly believe ties between the two will become stronger, and with President Xi's visit, we are not only hoping, but also confident that more people-to-people and education exchanges would occur in the future," Subodh Sharma, acting chancellor of Kathmandu University, told the Global Times on Friday.
A total 6,400 Nepalese students are studying in China, and Chinese companies have provided more than 100 scholarships to them. In 2018, the number of tourists from China to Nepal increased by 46.8 percent year-on-year, according to data provided by the Chinese Embassy in Nepal.
With the coming of "Visit Nepal Year 2020," the number of Chinese tourists could continue toincrease, Sharma said.
Long Xingchun, director of the Center for Indian Studies at China West Normal University, who closely follows China-Nepal relations, told the Global Times the trip is not only a milestone for the two countries, but will also strengthen economic ties while reshaping and promoting the development of South Asia.
Long Xingchun is a visiting fellow at Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China. Zhao Ruoxi is a postgraduate at the School of International Relations of Sichuan International Studies University.