March 17: Experts have pointed out that there is a need for adequate study in Nepal about China's ambitious project Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
They shared that after the concept of BRI was put forward by Chinese President Xi Jinping, there was no in-depth study about it in Nepal.
Bhojraj Paudel, policy reform advisor to South Asia Watch on Trade, Economics and Environment (SAWATEE) said that BRI is focused on security, energy and markets. However, he believes that Nepal can only benefit from the market facilities available by joining it. While choosing a plan for the market, he added, "Now we are talking about the Kathmandu-Kerung railway, but from an economic and practical point of view, it would be beneficial for us to make the Kodari route of four lanes."
According to consultant Paudel, China claims that Pokhara International Airport is a plan under the BRI. The government of Nepal has given a slow response to this matter. He said that the government should also be clear about how BRI is progressing within Nepal.
Professor of International Relations and Diplomacy of Tribhuvan University, Khadak KC, said that BRI should be promoted by keeping the national interest on top priority. This project is necessary for Nepal. However, geopolitics should be taken into account during implementation, he said.
Rajan Sharma, the former chairman of the Transportation and Logistics Committee under the Federation of Nepal Chamber of Commerce and Industry, warned that the situation should not be allowed to lead to the dissatisfaction of the other neighbour when the project carried forward by one neighbour is implemented.
"When we build a structure together with China, there should not be a situation where India imposes a blockade. If that happens, it will be very unfortunate," he said.
However, the political and administrative leadership expressed concern over the delay in the implementation of BRI and said that it should be implemented as soon as possible.Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Physical Infrastructure and Transport Narayankaji Shrestha said that the Government of Nepal is committed to advancing BRI.
Shrestha said that the government is determined to implement BRI. There has been some delay in the construction of the most important Kathmandu-Kerung railway, but it will go ahead. He said that it is misleading to say that Nepal will fall into a debt trap through BRI.
Similarly, former foreign minister and UML leader Pradip Gyawali discussed that the benefits of the current globalization are not shared equally and said that the participatory development concept of BRI is very positive.
"Due to our slowness, lack of expertise and geopolitics, development could not happen as expected. We need to increase investment in development. For that, BRI can be a perfect partner," he said.
Former Chief Secretary and Nepal's former Ambassador to China Lilamani Paudel said that BRI came forward based on the principle of Panchsheel. He added that the anti-China camp is spreading widespread propaganda against BRI, saying, "It is wrong to say that it is a debt trap of China."
He also said that the projects carried out by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund are not in the interest of developing countries.
China's Ambassador to Nepal Chen Song said that the projects under BRI are being completed successfully in various places. According to the ambassador, Chinese investment is also coming into Nepal along with BRI, and Nepal can benefit more from it.
Stakeholders made such remarks during the Nepal Experience programme organized on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the BRI concept. The program was organized by Friends of Silk Road Club Nepal.