Nepal Minute - out of the ordinary

Current Affairs

A leader of the Communist Party of China (CPC) – also a senior diplomat – is currently busy meeting Nepal’s top leaders since arriving here on Sunday.

Senior Chinese diplomat Liu Jianchao is also the head of CPC’s International Liaison Department. He arrived in Nepal on Sunday, July 10, leading a seven-member delegation from Beijing.

Liu substituted outgoing diplomat Song Tao as the head of that department in June, and this is Liu’s first foreign trip after assuming office.

Liu’s Kathmandu sojourn marks another high-level visit from the northern neighbour after Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited Kathmandu in March 2022.

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Senior Chinese diplomat Liu Jianchao meets Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Narayan Khadka. Photo: RSS

Day 1, Sunday, July 10:

Soon after he landed at the Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) in Kathmandu, representatives of different political parties and an official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs welcomed Liu and his comrades.

The same day he paid a courtesy call on Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba on Sunday afternoon. The two reportedly discussed matters of mutual interest and the age-old friendship between Nepal and China.

Later, he also met with the Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Narayan Khadka.

The two ministers exchanged views on further strengthening of bilateral relations between Nepal and China during the meeting held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a statement said.

In the evening, a dinner was organized in honour of Liu at Hotel Marriott in Nagpokhari, Kathmandu.

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Senior Chinese diplomat Liu Jianchao meets CPN (Maoist Center) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda. Photo: Prachanda/Facebook

Day 2, Monday, July 11:

Early on Monday, Liu visited the BP Museum located at Sundarijal in Gokarneshwor municipality. There he planted a sapling and signed the visitor's book.

After that, Liu met with Minister of Energy, Water Resources, and Irrigation Pampha Bhusal. Jointly, they launched the 'Smiling Children' project by offering food to students of Shanti Nikunja Secondary School.

Bhusal took to Facebook to wish CPC foreign department chief Liu a happy stay in Nepal.

The same day, he held a meeting with CPN (Maoist Center) Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal Prachanda at his residence in Khumatar. After discussing relations between the CPN (Maoist Center) and the CPC, the two reportedly agreed to “further strengthen the ties between the Maoist Center and the CPC”.

A senior leader of the CPN (Maoist Center) Narayan Kaji Shrestha, Krishna Bahadur Mahara, Barshaman Pun, Dev Prasad Gurung, and Minister of Energy, Water Resources, and Irrigation Pampha Bhusal were present in the meeting.

In the evening, Prachanda hosted a dinner in Liu’s honour at Hotel Soaltee.

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Senior Chinese diplomat Liu Jianchao offers food to students of Shanti Nikunja Secondary School. Photo: Pampha Bhusal/Facebook.

Day 3, Tuesday, July 12:

Liu's meeting with CPN-UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli at his residence was a key highlight of the third day. The meeting lasted around two hours, during which Liu expressed his concern over the growing anti-China activities in Nepal in recent times.

It wasn’t clear if Liu also expressed concerns at the split in the Communist Party of Nepal.

UML leaders Rajan Bhattarai, Bishnu Rimal, Pradip Gyawali, and others were present at the meeting.

Later in the day, Liu held talks with CPN-(Unified Socialist) Chairman Madhav Kumar Nepal and Senior leader Jhala Nath Khanal at Everest Hotel.

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Senior Chinese diplomat Liu Jianchao meets CPN-UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli. Photo: Bishnu Rijal/Facebook

Day 4 - Wednesday, July 13:

On the last day of the visit, reports say, the senior Chinese diplomat is scheduled to meet former UML district committee chairperson Krishna Rai.

Thereafter, he will courtesy call on President Bidyadevi Bhandari for an hour after 10 in the morning.

At noon, Liu is to meet Umesh Sthapit, secretary of the Newa: Mukti Morcha, a sister organization of the CPN-Maoist, in Kathmandu in the afternoon. Thereafter, the Chinese delegation is scheduled to visit Bhaktapur and see first-hand the reconstruction of monuments destroyed in the 2015 earthquakes.

Liu and his team is scheduled to return to China at around 23:15 hours Wednesday, capping their four-day visit.

Takeaway

The senior Chinese diplomats follow a flurry of visits from US officials in recent weeks and Nepal’s rejection of the US State Partnership Program (SPP) – but parliamentary approval of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) compact, a 500 million US Dollar grant for infrastructure development in Nepal, despite widespread criticism.

Although Liu was expected to re-urge Nepal’s divided communist parties to reunite again as Chinese diplomats proactively did before the 2017 elections, it’s unclear whether the top diplomat urged communist leaders to do so again. A CPN-Maoist-Centre leader present in one of the meetings told the media that “Liu thought it was Nepal’s internal matter”.

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