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China lures Nepal with checkbook diplomacy ahead of crucial elections

Nepal’s foreign minister Narayan Khadka with Chinese counterpart Wang Yi

Just ahead of the general election, China signed an agreement with Nepal for the utilisation of (Nepali) Rs 15 billion (800 million RMB) for implementation of various projects. The Nepalese authorities will identify the projects. Nepal will hold its general elections on November 20.

The agreement was signed in Beijing between Bishnu Pukar Shrestha, Nepal’s Ambassador to China, and Luo Zhaohui, Chairman of the China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA).

“A memorandum of understanding for economic and technical cooperation between the government of Nepal and CIDCA was signed in Beijing today,” Shrestha told the Kathmandu Post. “Now it is up to us to select and execute the projects.”

“Now the government of Nepal should expedite the project selection for their speedy implementation. The assistance amount was supposed to be spent in 2022, but due to a delay in the agreement’s signing, the assistance will be used in the year 2023-24,” said Shrestha.

Beijing made the commitment in August during Nepal’s Foreign Minister Narayan Khadka’s visit to China.

According to the Kathmandu Post, this is in addition to that announced by the Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2019.

Eyebrows were also raised with the Nepal Army abruptly awarding the contract for the sixth package of the Kathmandu-Terai-Madhesh expressway to a Chinese company — China First Highway Engineering Company. The Chinese contractor had been rejected earlier. After being rejected, the company lodged an official complaint with the Public Procurement Monitoring Office (PPMO) which comes under the aegis of the Nepalese Prime Minister’s Office.

Also read: Nepal sidelines Indian firm to give Expressway contract to dubious Chinese company