Third-ranking Chinese legislator Li Zhanshu will conclude a three-day visit to Nepal today. Aimed at improving bilateral relations, Li’s visit
Third-ranking Chinese legislator Li Zhanshu will conclude a three-day visit to Nepal today.
Aimed at improving bilateral relations, Li’s visit is the third by Chinese leadership since March and comes after Nepalese PM Sher Bahadur Deuba’s recent trip to the United States. The Nepalese ratification of the $500 million Millennium Challenge Corporation’s Nepal Compact—the largest grant ever received by Nepal—in February from an American aid agency placed the nation in the middle of larger geopolitical rivalries. Due to Nepal’s strict policy of military non-alignment, however, a Nepalese rejection of the United States’ proposed State Partnership Program in June over military cooperation clauses has offered China renewed pathways to influence its southern neighbor.
Taking advantage of these renewed pathways, Li and the Chinese delegation will likely attempt to garner support in Nepal through continuing talks on a prospective Belt and Road Initiative railway that would connect the Nepalese capital of Kathmandu to Chinese-controlled Tibet. While Nepal lacks the $5.5 billion and the engineering and technical capacity needed for a project that would traverse the Himalayas, China—previously hesitant to commit to any investment—may now firmly realize the potential geopolitical benefits of a direct connection to Kathmandu.