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Senior Chinese official arrives in Nepal to unify Communist factions ahead of elections

The Head of the CCP international department, Liu Jiancho, arrived in Kathmandu on Sunday morning

The Head of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) international department, Liu Jiancho, arrived in Kathmandu on Sunday morning for a four-day visit, in an apparent bid to unite Communist factions ahead of Nepal’s general elections.

Officials at Nepal's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and leaders from the ruling and opposition party welcomed the six-member CCP delegation led by Liu upon their arrival at the Tribhuvan International Airport.

Liu will be holding separate meetings with Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and Foreign Minister Narayan Khadka, later today. Foreign Minister Khadka, who is also a key leader of the ruling Nepali Congress, is hosting dinner in honour of the visiting Chinese delegation this evening.

Liu is scheduled to hold separate meetings with chairman of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Center) Pushpa Kamal Dahal on Monday and chairman of Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist) KP Sharma Oli on Tuesday.

The Chinese leader's visit comes at a time when Nepali communist parties—with whom Beijing maintains frequent contacts than other political forces—are eyeing the possibility of forging an alliance in the provincial and parliamentary elections later this year.

Liu's visit is taking place three weeks after he held virtual talks with key leaders of the communist parties and the foreign minister of Nepal.

"China wishes to see a government led by communist parties mainly because they are mindful of Beijing's core security matters including the Tibetan affairs," a key leader of the ruling Nepal Communist Party (Maoist Center) said.

Mr. Liu's visit is not just to develop party-to-party ties with the ruling and opposition parties, analysts said, adding that the visit has its geopolitical dimension too.

Recently, China conveyed its worry over Nepal's plan to further enhance defence and security cooperation with the United States under the State Partnership Program (SPP) knowledgeable sources said.

However, China was quick to welcome when Nepal decided to back away from the SPP, a key component of the US Indo-Pacific Strategy, in the last week of June.

Apart from building party-to-party relationship between the CCP and Nepal’s political parties, another agenda during Liu's visit is to encourage the country's top leadership to accelerate China-initiated Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), sources further said.

Liu, who holds a ministerial rank in the CCP, is on a visit to Nepal, four months after the visit of Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi. The department is the CCP's de facto foreign ministry which maintains contacts with political parties in other countries.  Prior to taking over the present responsibility, Liu served as deputy director at the Office for Central Foreign Affairs Commission since 2018.

The 58-year-old Liu is also a former Chinese diplomat. An Oxford-trained Liu had served as the Chinese foreign ministry’s chief spokesperson between 2006 and 2009. Later on, he went on to become Chinese ambassador to Philippines and Indonesia and returned to Beijing in 2015.

Also Read: Beijing sending senior Communist leader to Nepal next week