China’s new ambassador to Chen Song is arriving when a hung assembly is expected to emerge after just concluded polls
Kathmandu: China has named Chen Song as its next ambassador to Nepal.
According to officials at Nepal’s foreign ministry, the Chinese side has notified them about their decision to designate Chen as next ambassador to Kathmandu.
Chen is currently one of the five deputy director generals at the Asian Affairs Department of Chinese foreign ministry. He oversees China’s relations with South Asian countries including Nepal, the Maldives and Afghanistan.
The new Chinese ambassador is expected to take up his diplomatic assignment in late December, one official familiar with the development said.
The new envoy’s nomination comes a month after then Chinese ambassador Hou Yanqi returned to Beijing completing her four-year tenure in Kathmandu.
The ambassador courted controversies for her intermediary role in bringing the two warring factions of the then ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) together when the party’s internal crisis was at its peak in 2020. Much to China’s chagrin, the NCP saw a vertical split in March 2021 after the Supreme Court’s verdict.
Completed my tenure, I’m going to leave friendly and beautiful neighboring Nepal. I would like to extend my most sincere thanks to all Nepali friends! I will always cherish the profound friendship I forged with friends from all walks of life during my stay in Nepal. pic.twitter.com/23MkVzypMc
— Ambassador Hou Yanqi (@PRCAmbNepal) October 25, 2022
Ambassador Hou has been nominated as China’s next ambassador to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Chen, the new Chinese ambassador, will reach Kathmandu at a time when political parties will be in the process of forming a post-election government.
A Chinese watcher said that Beijing hopes to see a friendly government in the post-election period that can potentially advance its interests in Nepal.
“For the new ambassador, it will not be an easy task to advance Chinese interests amid the post-election flux,” he told India Narrative.
In his opinion, China’s number one priority is to check the growing American influence in Kathmandu and the new ambassador will work towards this end.
“If current Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba returns to power after elections, Beijing fears the American influence may further grow in Nepal,” observed.
Apart from that, Beijing wishes to push infrastructure projects in Nepal under the ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) once the new dispensation is in place.
The Deuba-led present government, despite China’s repeated calls, rejected accepting commercial loans for rail-road connectivity projects under the BRI fearing a “debt trap”.
(Santosh Ghimire is the Nepal correspondent of India Narrative based in Kathmandu)