【Kathmandu】On Saturday (October 12), the day Chinese President Xi Jinping landed in Kathmandu for a two-day state visit, three Nepali papers, including the Post's sister paper Kantipur, published an article authored by him, in which the Chinese leader said that China wants to forge "a strategic partnership" with Nepal.
A joint communiqué issued after the conclusion of Xi's visit on Sunday categorically mentioned that both sides have "decided to, on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, Charter of the United Nations and principles of good neighbourliness, elevate Nepal-China Comprehensive Partnership of Cooperation Featuring Ever-lasting Friendship to Strategic Partnership of Cooperation."
This is the first time that a joint communiqué issued by Nepal and China has ever mentioned the phrase "strategic partnership", leaving experts and foreign policy watchers confused as to what exactly this means for Nepal and whether the phrase has any "security and military" connotations.
Though government officials refrained from commenting on what exactly this strategic partnership meant, some agreements reached with China during Xi visit entail both security and military components.
"As Nepal has signed a treaty on mutual legal assistance with China, it must have some security dimension," said Sridhar Khatri, former executive director of the South Asia Centre for Policy Studies.
"Chinese President Xi's two-day visit has sophisticated the Nepal-China relationship, which is full of opportunities but also geopolitical challenges," said former Nepal Army general Binoj Basnyat. Geopolitical trends have not only economic benefits but also geostrategic security complexities, according to Basnyat.
However, foreign policy analyst Khatri cautioned against reading too much into the phrase. "Are we looking at the whole tree or just its branches and roots?" said Khatri. "We cannot draw a conclusion from two speeches delivered at a banquet and the text of a joint communiqué. We don't know everything about what was discussed during the visit for us to draw a conclusion."
Nepal and China elevate bilateral ties to a ‘strategic partnership’ but no one’s certain what that entails
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