Qiu Guohong: China and Nepal are friendly neighbors since ancient times, and the friendship between China and Nepal is passed on from generation to generation. Since the establishment of diplomatic relations more than 50 years ago, no matter what changes occurred in the international situation and national conditions of both China and Nepal, the relations between the two countries have developed in a healthy and smooth way. China and Nepal always strictly abide by the five principles of peaceful coexistence, respect and trust each other, treat each other as equals and sincerely provide assistance. The relationship is indeed a good example of harmonious coexistence and beneficial cooperation between big and small countries.
There have been a slew of high-level visits by Chinese officials in the past year, does this indicate closer economic, cultural and political ties?
Since the formation of the current coalition government, high-level officials from both countries have made frequent exchanges. Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal 'Prachanda' attended the closing ceremony of Beijing Olympic Games. Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and special envoy of the Chinese Government Hu Zhengyue paid visits to Nepal one after the other. Foreign Minister Upendra Yadav has just concluded his visit to China.
The visits show that the Chinese side attaches great importance to the development of China-Nepal relations. We are ready to work with the Nepali side to consistently enhance the friendly cooperation between the two sides, achieve mutual benefit, benefit the people of both countries and contribute to the peace and stability of this region. In my opinion, China and Nepal can strengthen cooperation in the following aspects. First, accommodate each other's political concern. China respects Nepal's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, and respects her choice on the social system and development path in light of its national conditions. Second, enhance the economic cooperation on the basis of mutual benefit.
The Chinese side will continue to provide assistance to Nepal to the best of its capacity. We will also positively consider increasing aid to Nepal, and put the limited assistance into the most needed projects that can improve the economy and the livelihood of Nepali people. China supports competent and well-established Chinese companies to invest in Nepal and encourages Chinese tourists to visit Nepal. Third, boost people-to-people and cultural exchanges. We will try to expand the cooperation in personnel and cultural sectors through human resource training, exchanges of youth delegations and holding of a 'China Festival' so as to have the China-Nepal friendship deeply rooted in the hearts of two peoples and passed on from generation to generation. Fourth, strengthen the coordination and cooperation in international and regional affairs. Both China and Nepal are developing countries, and share broad common interests on international and regional issues. It's necessary for the two sides to further enhance cooperation.
What would be the priority issues that the Chinese side would raise during Prime Minister Dahal's visit to China?
The upcoming visit of Prime Minister Prachanda to China is one of the most important events in China-Nepal relations this year. Chinese leaders attach great importance to it and concerned authorities are doing necessary homework to ensure the success of the visit. During the PM's visit, the Chinese side will make some proposals to further expand bilateral relations from a long-term perspective so as to strengthen the comprehensive cooperation and benefit the people of both countries.
The major topics include how to promote bilateral political relations, strengthen economic cooperation and trade, boost people-to-people and cultural exchanges and push forward existing traditional and friendly bilateral relations to a new height.
Are there any concrete plans to extend the Beijing-Lhasa railway to Nepal?
It has been listed in the Medium and Long-term Railway Network Planning of China to extend the Qinghai-Tibet railway from Lhasa to Shigatze, and from Shigatze to Nyalam. I believe that the extension of Qinghai-Tibet railway to the China-Nepal border will have a positive influence on establishing new China-Nepal road links and promoting economic cooperation and trade between China and Nepal and between China and South Asia. As Chinese Ambassador to Nepal, I'd like to play an active role in that.
But how exactly could Nepal benefit as a transit region for trade between China and India?
Nepal is situated between China and India, and shares long border lines with both of them, enjoying an advantageous geographic position. China and India, as two major developing countries in the world, have maintained
stable yet fast economic growth in recent years, and effectively boosted the economic development in the region. Nepal could make full use of the geographic advantage and traditional friendship with both countries to create a conducive economic atmosphere, take trade facilitation measures and cultivate professionals so as to benefit from the fast economic development of China and India and stimulate its domestic economic growth.
The Chinese side is willing to conduct economic cooperation and trade with Nepal and India on the basis of mutual benefit, and make consultations on how to facilitate trade and economic development.
Nepal's remote northern districts need better connectivity. How could China help?
The 15 districts of the northern part of Nepal share common borders with China's Tibet Autonomous Region. The Chinese side attaches great importance to border trade between China and Nepal. The China-Nepal border trade has been developed vigorously since 1962. Currently, there are five major border trading points. There has already been a road linkage between Zhangmu and Kodari. Now the Chinese side is upgrading the infrastructure in Zhangmu Pass and the surrounding road, and is positively considering initiating construction of the dry port near Tatopani in the Nepali side as early as possible. The Syabrubesi-Rasuwagadi road is now under construction under a Chinese grant. After the completion of this road, the Chinese side will push for the establishment of Kyerong Pass, which will mark the inception of the second trade corridor between China and Nepal.
I'm convinced that these measures will further enhance the border trade between two countries and benefit their people.
Any chance of China lifting visa requirements for Nepalis visiting Hong Kong?
Hong Kong is a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the People's Republic of China. The Chinese Government deals with Hong Kong affairs in accordance with the principles of "one country, two systems" and the Basic Law of the Hong Kong SAR. Therefore, only the Government of the Hong Kong SAR has the power to decide on whether to grant Nepali citizens free visa treatment and when to grant this treatment. As the Chinese Ambassador to Nepal, I am willing to convey this aspiration to the Government of Hong Kong SAR through an appropriate channel and at a suitable time.
How do you assess the measures taken by the Nepali government vis-?-vis Tibet-related issues?
In 1959, the Chinese Government started carrying out democratic reform and abolished the theocratic feudal serfdom, through which millions of serfs got liberation and personal freedom. For the past 50 years, tremendous changes have taken place in Tibet: the Tibetan people enjoy and exercise all rights endowed by the Constitution and Ethnic Region Autonomy law of the People's Republic of China, live much better lives with the comprehensive progress of social welfare, harmony in religion, prosperity in culture protection and development, and have been the real owner of Tibet. Here I want to emphasise that the democratic reform in Tibet is an important milestone of the serfdom abolition campaign in the whole world, the important progress of international human rights cause, and an important contribution to the democracy, freedom and human rights of the world made by the Chinese people including Tibetan compatriots.
Tibet has been an inalienable part of China since ancient times. The Tibet issue concerns the unification and core interest of China. The abolition of feudal serfdom and an ethnic autonomous region system can benefit the Tibetan people, which has been proven by the big development and changes of Tibet in the past 50 years. Any force or any person who tries to deny the above-mentioned facts, is holding ulterior motives. The intentions to restore the feudal serfdom and separate Tibet from China by the Dalai clique will incur strong objection from all Chinese including Tibetans, and is doomed to failure.
The Nepali Government and people always pursue a one-China policy, and firmly support the Chinese side on Tibet-related issues, which is highly appreciated by the Chinese Government and people. Especially in March 2009, the sensitive period for Tibet-related issues, the Nepali Government has taken strong and effective measures to successively foil the attempts of so-called 'Tibet independence' activists to conduct all kinds of sabotage and disruptive activities targeted at the Chinese Embassy in Nepal and other establishments on China's territory, and ensured the security and proper order of the Chinese Embassy. We highly appreciate that.