Expressing firm commitment to work with India and the larger international community, China and Nepal on Thursday signed two pacts for post-disaster reconstruction of Nepal, setting up priority projects for the next five years.
According to the visiting Chinese Deputy International Trade Representative and Assistant Minister for Commerce, Zhang Xiangchen, Chinese priorities for Nepal’s reconstruction include infrastructure development, improvement of people’s livelihood after the earthquake, restoration of cultural relics, capacity building for disaster prevention and mitigation, medical and health cooperation, and maintenance of projects built with Chinese assistance.
Zhang told the media during a news conference that reconstruction is a long-term and massive project. “In this process, China will strengthen coordination with India, international community and relevant donor countries and remain open towards appropriate forms of international cooperation.”
On the basis of fully respecting the will of Nepal and observing the “prospered, agreed and guided by Nepal” principle, Zhang said China was ready to discuss the contents and forms of cooperation with Nepal, other donors and international organisations in a way to pool resources and forge synergy for assistance.
In an example of trilateral cooperation between Nepal, India and China, he presented the Civil Service Hospital which was built by China while most of its health professionals are trained in India.
“India and China are working on Nepal’s reconstruction process. Due to the leverage and advantages of bilateral relations between these two countries, Nepal can take maximum benefit,” he said.
On Thursday, Finance Secretary Suman Sharma and Zhang signed two agreements—Memorandum of Understanding on Post-Disaster Reconstruction Aid Project Plan, and Agreement on Targeted Cash Assistance worth $10 million for relocation of earthquake victims under the grant pledged earlier.
During the International Conference on Nepal’s Reconstruction on June 25, China pledged a grant aid of Rs48 billion (RMB3 billion) for post-earthquake recovery. In total, Nepal received $4.4 billion in aid commitments.
Among the five areas of reconstruction cooperation, China will provide support for restoration and re-opening of Araniko and Syabrubesi-Rasuwagadi Highways, and for projects on urban transport and public buildings in Kathmandu under infrastructure.
“The aim is to enhance China-Nepal connectivity and help large cities such as Kathmandu in post-disaster rebuilding,” the visiting Chinese minister said during a press briefing at the Chinese Embassy on Thursday.
For improving people’s livelihood after the earthquake in Nepal’s north, priority projects are schools, hospitals and resettlement buildings in Sindhupalchok and Rasuwa districts. For the preservation of cultural relics and to revitalise the tourism industry, the Chinese priority is on overall restoration of Kathmandu Durbar Square and Swoyambhunath.
Under capacity-building against disasters, China will help devise disaster prevention and mitigation plans, earthquake monitoring network and urban seismic zoning research.
China will help upgrade the Civil Service Hospital and offer medical equipment and training to improve the health infrastructure and services.
China also announced to restore the ongoing projects of the first phase of Ring Road expansion in Kathmandu and the Tatopani checkpoint, and to repair and reinforce projects built with Chinese assistance. He said the bases for extending assistance to Nepal are the South-South Cooperation, Nepal’s status as a Least Developed Country and “mutual assistance for brothers and friends”.
Though there is no rush to sign BIPPA with Nepal as both sides have already exchanged texts in several rounds, Zhang hoped the bilateral trade promotion agreement will be signed soon.
Stating that bilateral trade with Nepal will touch $2.3 billion very soon, China also laid emphasis on boosting trade and promoting Nepal’s tourism in major Chinese cities. Zhang will be meeting Prime Minister Sushil Koirala and senior government officials on Friday.