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President Xi’s Nepal Visit

Issue October 2019

President Xi’s Nepal Visit

Siddhi B Ranjitkar


The visit of the Chinese President Xi Jinping to Nepal had been the most remarkable event. Actually, President Xi dropped by in Nepal on the way back home from Chennai, India where President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had friendly talks. Indian Prime Minister Modi told Chinese President Xi Jinping that the relation between China and India was stable, and the differences were manageable, the BBC news stated. President Xi dropped a few billions in the begging bowl. He enjoyed the lavish welcome for less than a day in Nepal. His visit was a major moral boost to the already disheartened administration.


The two rising superpower neighbors: China to the north and India to the south had been competing to develop as fast as they could. Both the countries had the economic growth at above six percent per year means their economy have been doubling every 12 years or so. Probably, they would be surpassing the world’s largest economy very soon.


The gross domestic product of China is US$ 14.216 trillion in 2019, and that of India is US $ 2.972 in 2019, as posted on the wikipedia website. These are the nominal GDPs where as the GDPs in the purchasing power parity (PPP) are US$ 27.331 trillion for China and US$ 11.469 trillion for India in 2019. The GDP of America is US$ 20.494 both in nominal and PPP in 2018, according to the data posted on the wikipedia website. These economic data indicate how these two large economies have been tending to be closer to the world’s largest US economy. Soon, China would surpass the US even in the nominal term.


Just before the Chinese president was to drop by in Kathmandu on October 12, and then return home on October 13, 2019, the Oli administration decorated the roads from the Kathmandu International airport to the Soaltee Hotel paving them nicely, painting the crosswalks, and sidewalls that would be visible to the Chinese high profile guest; then the Tinkune that had been the place for dumping the construction wastes became a nice beautiful park where different flowers were blooming, short bush plants were fluttering in the wind; flowerpots with blooming flowers were placed at the crosswalks, and at any other places where the attention of the Chinese dignitaries would be drawn to.


The traffic police prohibited the large vehicles plying within the ring road in Kathmandu, and ordered not to run old vehicles in the core areas of Kathmandu during the visit of President Xi. Security was tightened. The potential troublemakers such as the members of the free Tibet movement were rounded up. The Chinese embassy in Kathmandu was made off-limits to the common folks diverting the vehicular traffic to other directions. The Nepal Army, Nepal police and the Armed Police Force of Nepal deployed heavily to avoid any unpleasant events that would embarrass the supreme guest.


The Kathmandu International airport was closed for two hours or more before the plane carrying President Xi landed. No flying machines were allowed in the sky of Kathmandu when the plane carrying the high profile guest was to fly in and fly out of Kathmandu. Many passengers must have delayed or missed the connection flights due to the closure of the airport for other flights for the security of President Xi in the sky.


Pictures of President Xi, and his Nepali counterpart President Bhandari were posted on the telephone polls all along the roads the president was to travel. Banners with various slogans were also posted on sidewalls. Some folks tore them down causing the police to arrest them for the public nuisance. Welcome gates were built at many places for President Xi to see. These were all the show-offs of the administration.


President Xi probably would be ashamed of what the Oli administration had done and spent the taxpayers’ money on the beautification of a small portion of Kathmandu momentarily only for the visit of the president. Millions of rupees must have been spent on buying the flowerpots with blooming flowers, plants, and the grass for making the Tinkune looked like a beautiful park, and decorate the sidewalks and crosswalks for two days. Such things had happened in China, too during the Mao period but not now. Today, nobody could fool the leaders into believing such abrupt development and cleanness.


The Kathmandu Metropolitan City administration had used the five-street sweepers purchased from Italy to clean the Kathmandu streets. They went on actions for several days, and they continued to sweep the streets President Xi and his entourage were to travel days and nights. These street-sweeping vehicles had been useful at least for the visit of President Xi otherwise they had been without actions. The reasons for not deploying those street-sweeping machines were that the Kathmandu streets had too many potholes and dust as if the mayor, the deputy major and other officials did not know the conditions of the streets in Kathmandu when they ordered such nice street-sweeping vehicles for keeping the Kathmandu streets free from dust and dirt.


Nepal wanted a moon whereas China gave a peanut. Nepalese president while speaking at the State dinner hosted in honor of Chinese President Xi on October 12, 2019 said that Nepalis loved to see the railroad running from the Chinese border in Kerung to Kathmandu and then from Kathmandu to the south bordering India. It cost at least US$ 2 billion at the current prices. Whether it would give the economic return on the investment to make it feasible. Nepal did not want to build it with the loan. So, China has to make it a gift. China is not currently in a mood to commit to give such an expensive gift to Nepal. Probably, China would build it only when the railroads would bring China the benefit of huge trade with India via Nepal.


Ultimately, China agreed on conducting the feasibility study on the railroads from Kerung to Kathmandu. It won’t cost much to China. Chinese experts would come to Nepal and make a survey and then make a feasibility report on it. Then, the cost of making DPR (detailed project report) would be significant. It would be done only if the railroads were actually to be built. So, the railroads might not reach Kathmandu during the life time of the current political leaders running the administration of the State, and of course their political parties.


Some Nepalis had erroneously thought that China would construct the tunnel road to Kerung but if anybody had read the joint communiqué published in “gorkhapatra” in Nepali on October 14, 2019 s/he would find that China would do the feasibility study on this road for the construction of that road.


President Xi in his article published in “gorkhapatra’ in Nepali and in “The Rising Nepal” in English on October 11, 2019 stated that his priorities were the trade and investment, post-quake reconstruction, energy and tourism. He did not mentioned infrastructures and the railroads Nepal wanted so much. It was quite a good hint that he would not be building the railroads. However, Nepalis probably could not read the Chinese president’s mind or simply ignored for trying to have the railroads anyhow.


President Xi said in his article, “Broaden practical cooperation. We need to make greater efforts to develop a Multi-dimensional Connectivity Network across the Himalayas. China supports Chinese business investment in Nepal in the four priority cooperation areas of trade and investment, post-disaster reconstruction, energy, and tourism. China welcomes Nepal's participation in the second China International Import Expo to promote exports of its specialty products to China. What's more, China will continue to support post-disaster reconstruction and do what it can to support and assist the betterment of people's lives in Nepal” in the article published in the Nepalese newspaper and the Chinese newspaper the “Global Times” reproduced.


China sincerely wanted to assist Nepal in producing the high quality technical manpower; so, China committed to provide Nepal with RMB 3.5 billion (NPR 56 billion at the current exchange rate of NPR 16.01 to one RMB) for upgrading the universities in Nepal, the news published in “gorkhapatra” on October 13, 2019 stated. However, Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali told the anchor of the Radio Nepal morning program called “Antar Sambad” on October 14, 2019 that the grant money could be spent on any project the Oli administration wanted.


After Chairman Mao Zedong's death in 1976, the then Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping opened up the Chinese economy for the investments of the capitalists from all over the world starting in 1978. Deng sent hundreds of thousands of Chinese students to the US universities and other universities in the western world for higher education to build up a huge technical manpower for building a modern China. Deng scrapped or amended thousands of laws, rules and regulations that obstructed the fast economic development.


If the Oli administration were really committed to making Nepal a prosperous country then his colleagues and he needed to learn from the Chinese economic reformers. The Oli administration instead of scrapping the unfavorable laws including the public procurement law for the development crafted mostly during the Panchayat period for controlling all sorts of development, did not touch them rather strictly followed them because that benefited the party cadres and then certainly the near and dear ones, too.


Instead the Oli administration put forward the new Media Council Bill for scrapping the Press Council Act to control the freedom of expression and then the Human Rights Bill to minimize the status of the Human Rights Commission so that the common folks would not be able to talk about the leaders adversely, and would not expose the irregularities in the administration. The Land Minister smartly put forward the Guthi Bill to legally grab the private, public and even the State Guthi land for distributing it to the political cadres. Would Prime Minister Oli be successful to make Nepal a prosperous country with such an intention of the ministers? The answer is surely not.


The Oli administration ordered all the State employees in Kathmandu to line up on the right sidewalk of the roads holding the flag of China on one hand and of Nepal on other hand when President Xi would be driving from the airport to the Soaltee Hotel on October 12, 2019. Anybody watching the videos posted on the social media could see the folks lining up on the sidewalks holding the flags on their hands and hanging their identity cards on their necks.


Some irritated State employees said that the practice of the Panchayat regime lining up the State employees at any functions had returned. However, the fact is that the practice is of the communist governments elsewhere in the world. The then king simply copied from the communist governments’ practice and introduced it in Nepal. So, the current communist government needed not to reintroduce the practice of the Panchayat. It is there in the blood of the communists.


The Oli administration declared Sunday a day off for the State employees probably for compensating for they had worked lining up on the sidewalks for welcoming President Xi on Saturday: the official holiday or the weekend. However, the day off was for all the State employees working across the country. The Oli administration did not care about how much loss the country would need to bear for the entire population not working for a day. The old data for the production loss for the closure of Nepal for a day was NPR 2 billion.


One day before the President Xi’s Nepal visit, 500 Chinese security descended on Kathmandu to make sure that the Chinese president would be safe while he was in Kathmandu. Then, two jumbo jets landed in the Kathmandu International airport, one carrying the Chinese president, another carrying a bulletproof limousine for the president to ride while in Kathmandu. The vehicle had the Chinese characters on the tip of its hood.


At the airport, the Chinese security surrounded the president. A young Chinese lady donned black followed the president everywhere. Probably, she was the interpreter. It looked that she was interpreting for the president.


President Bidhya Bhandari went to the bottom stair to welcome President Xi but no hugging or a kiss but they shake hands normally, and then President Bhandari showed the way to go ahead. They seemed to be exchanging a few words but not clear whether they were talking in English or in other language on the video posted on facebook.


While reaching the five girls donned red each holding a flower garland President Xi got bit surprised apparently the president was not properly briefed on what he would receive at the welcome ceremony. Receiving a garland from the first girl, the president found himself what to do with the flower garland. In a moment, one of the securities approached the president and took the garland from the hands of President Xi.


President Xi reached the Nepalese dignitaries lined up in the order of the Vice-president, then the prime minister and so on. The president clasped the hand of each one of them one by one. All of them were in grey coats the State uniform borrowed from the Panchayat system, which was the symbol of the high status of the persons wearing them. The white Nepalese suit with a trouser and a frock over it, then a grey coat on it, and a black hat on the head was the State prescribed uniform for the high State employees and of course for the ministers, and the elected officials during the Panchayat regime.


The Maoists and the Madheshis except for the former president Dr Ram Baran Yadav had been boycotting this official uniform prescribed for those high-class people in the Nepalese bureaucracy since Nepal became the federal democratic republic. It was not possible during the Panchayat time. Some of the Maoists particularly the vice-president had been adopting this uniform recently. Surprisingly, the current spokesman for the ruling NCP: Narayankaji Shrestha was wearing the State prescribed Nepalese uniform while clasping hands with President Xi at the Soaltee Hotel on October 13, 2019. Chairman Prachanda had never taken off the black Nepalese hat from his head but he loved the western bourgeoisie suit and tie because Vladimir Lenin had worn the suit and tie even though he was the leader of proletariats. Not surprisingly, Chinese Communist Leader Mao Zedong was always seen in public wearing the national costume.


President Xi declared that Nepal was no more a landlocked country but a land-linked country, and he would assist Nepalis in every possible ways and means to make Nepal a successful country. This statement clearly conveyed the message that China is widely opening up its territories for the Nepalese business and trade. It has the hidden message that Nepal could divert major imports from India to China. Probably, Nepal could promptly import onions from China to offset the shortage India had caused prohibiting the export of onions. The price of onions had skyrocketed from NPR 35 to NPR 125 and higher now. It might not come down until the onion crops improve in India and India lifts the embargo on the onion export. The Nepalese production of onions meets only two percent of the national requirement, according to the agricultural experts.


Nepalese Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali told the anchor of the Radio Nepal morning program called “Antar Sambad” on October 14, 2019 that the Nepalese team talked about the Nepalese trade deficit with China with President Xi. The reply of President Xi was that Nepal needed to identify the competitive products that could be sold in the Chinese market. So, the message was why the Nepalese guys did not improve the efficiency and produce the items that could be sold competitively in the Chinese market. This is surely applicable to the trade deficit with all other countries, too.


The current Oli administration apparently so concerned with the trade deficit surprisingly had been ignoring to rehabilitate the Bhrikuti Paper Factor that could substitute the import of paper to a considerable quantity, and two brick factories: one in Lalitpur and another in Bhaktapur all of the three factories were the gifts of China. Nepal had sold out the Bansbari Leather and Shoes Factory that China had built for the people of Nepal. The China-built trolley bus running between Kathmandu and Bhaktapur had been liquidated. All these State-owned enterprises were for import substitution. The Chinese particularly President Xi must have been very concerned with the China-built factories remaining idle and sold out, and the trolley bus liquidated.


Similarly, the Oli administration could run the Gorkhali Rubber Udyog set up in the Gorkha district with the loan from the Asian Development Bank; its production of tires and tubes also could contribute to the import substitution. The concern of the Oli administration for the trade deficit is real or only hypocrisy is surely questionable.


Tourism entrepreneur Karna Shakya told the anchor of the Radio Nepal morning program called “Antar Sambad” on October 12, 2019 that the President Xi’s visit to Nepal would opened up the floodgate of the Chinese tourists visiting Nepal particularly the Lumbini: the birth place of Lord Buddha because the Chinese TVs, and radios would live broadcast the Nepal visit of President Xi and the Chinese folks would be heavily informed on Nepal. Thus, the President Xi’s visit would surely boost the Nepalese tourism industry and contribute to make the “Visit Nepal 2020” a success.


Other beneficiaries were the State employees, who controlled the money for buying the flowerpots for decorating the crosswalks and sidewalks wherever president Xi could see them, so many flowers for decorating the Tinkune, where President Xi passed when coming in from the airport and going back to airport. Then, of course the florists who sold the flower, and plants probably earning hundreds of thousands of rupees; certainly, the contractors who blacktopped the roads to make them silky for the president to ride so that he would not feel any bumps while traveling on his limousine on the otherwise very bumpy roads in Kathmandu. Then, of course those wall painters and crosswalk painters surely benefited from the president’s visit.


Let us not talk about the Soaltee Hotel how much it had benefited or not. The benefit for the hotel had been that one of the powerful world leaders had spent a night in its suite. That alone must be an enormous benefit. That might be enough for gaining a high status even though it had already been a high-class hotel. Chinese had reserved the entire Soaltee Hotel for President Xi, and his entourage.


President Xi had shown a great respect for President Bhandari visiting her at the official presidential residence on the very night he arrived in Nepal. This courtesy had been for the people of Nepal. This also demonstrated how highly civilized and polite the Chinese guest had been. While clinking his glass with the President Bhandari’s in a toast at the banquet President Bhandari hosted for President Xi, President Xi lowered his glass a little bit. The China experts said that it was the Chinese way of demonstrating the profound respect. However, Nepalis had even neglected the manner of holding a wine glass correctly and properly.


President Xi also demonstrated the keen interest in the opposition party. He first met with the president of Nepali Congress Sher Bahadur Deuba also the opposition leader in the House of Representative at the Soaltee Hotel. President Xi had nothing but praise for the Nepali Congress, and reminded the past cooperation with the Nepali Congress and expressed his wish to continue the good relations with the Nepali Congress party.


In the suite of the Soaltee Hotel, President Xi had a one-on-one meeting with Chairman Prachanda, and a group meeting with other NCP leaders such as Madhav Kumar Nepal, and Jhalanath Khanal both are the former prime ministers, and Narayankaji Shrestha: the current spokesman for the NCP. That was again the courtesy President Xi has shown to the NCP leaders.


What President Xi told these guys at the group meeting and the one-on-one meeting with Prachanda had not come to the public light but publicly President Xi had hinted at the need for scrapping some Nepalese laws particularly the Public Procurement Act that had been a great obstacle to completing the development projects as scheduled but the Public Procurement Act had been the great tool for the decision makers and the contractors to make money legally that President Xi did not tell not to do.


Exactly, what President Xi told the Oli administration was not to delay the completion of the construction and other development projects? Would Mr. Prime Minister listen to President Xi and expedite the completion of the development projects amending the Public Procurement Act? Probably, he would never do so.


China's president has issued a warning against dissent, saying any attempt to divide China will end in "bodies smashed and bones ground to powder". Xi Jinping's comments came during a state visit to Nepal on Sunday, Chinese state broadcaster CCTV said, the BBC news on stated on October 14, 2019.


"Anyone who attempts to split any region from China will perish, with their bodies smashed and bones ground to powder," Mr. Xi said, according to a foreign ministry statement issued on Sunday. "Any external forces that support the splitting of China can only be regarded as delusional by the Chinese people," he said, according to the BBC news on


The BBC news stated that even though President Xi did not mention exactly to whom it was pointed to; it might be the warning to Hong Kong protestors. However, it might be directly stated to the Tibetan dissidents operating in Nepal in the name of free Tibet because President Xi must have come to know that the security was tight to stop any Tibetans protesting against the president’s visit in Nepal.


Since the start of the Hong Kong protest movement four months ago, China has blamed "external forces" for fuelling the unrest, and accused the US and UK of interfering in Chinese domestic affairs, the BBC news on stated. The same was true to the activities of the Tibetans operating in Nepal against the Chinese rule in Tibet.


The visit of the high profile Chinese guest had enhanced the morale of the almost dispirited Oli administration. Home Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa congratulated the Police and the Nepal Armed Police for successfully maintaining the security at the time of the visit of President Xi.


Some folks made money of course at the cost of the taxpayers. Others enjoyed a one-day off on Sunday, October 13, 2019 apparently for sending off the Chinese guests. Anyway the visit must have contributed to the economic boost. Nepal had at least received NPR 56 billion in grant. It is not a small amount for the country like Nepal even though some business companies get tax waive in billions whereas the prime minister took a shelter in the guesthouse of a private company in Singapore when he went there for the medical treatment to save some State money, according to the news in the Nepalese media, and the word of mouth passed from one person to another among the folks.


October 15, 2019

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