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Nepal works for balance across region
By:China Daily Global
update:December 08,2022
Light illuminates a street between the cluster of residential buildings in Kathmandu, Nepal, Nov 8, 2022. [Photo/Agencies]
Parties looking to form govt see good China, India ties as vital for prosperity
As efforts gather pace in Nepal for the formation of a new government following parliamentary elections this month, political leaders have expressed hope that warm relations with China and India will continue to underpin the Himalayan nation's prosperity and development path.
In views that cut across party lines, veteran leaders say Nepal needs to maintain a balance in its foreign policy and that the new government should pursue friendly relations with all countries, especially with the two giant neighbors.
Nepal will maintain good relations with India and China under the next coalition government led by the Nepali Congress, or NC, which is emerging as the largest party after the elections on Nov 20, said Prakash Man Singh, a senior NC leader and former deputy prime minister.
Singh said Nepal will follow a nonaligned foreign policy. "We will maintain good friendly relations with all the countries including the neighbors by keeping the national interest and welfare of the people in focus," said Singh.
"We need help and cooperation from all the friendly countries toward attaining Nepal's development and economic prosperity."
Nepal has enjoyed special relations with India for decades and the country will continue to preserve the ties as the two countries share thriving trade links and common religions and customs. At the same time, Kathmandu will also maintain close and friendly relations with Beijing, said Bimalendra Nidhi, another senior NC leader and former deputy prime minister.
The NC, led by incumbent Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, is set to emerge as the single-largest party after winning 53 seats so far in the general election. The ruling five-party alliance has won 85 seats, against 55 won by the opposition alliance led by the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist), or CPN-UML, according to data posted on the website of Nepal's Election Commission.
In the 275-member House of Representatives, 165 seats are elected through direct voting, while the remaining 110 are decided through proportional system. A party or a coalition needs 138 seats to win a clear majority.
The ruling alliance includes the NC led by Deuba, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre) led by Pushpakamal Dahal — also known as Prachanda, CPN-Unified Socialist headed by Madhav Kumar Nepal, as well as the Lokatantrik Samajwadi Party and the Rashtriya Janamorcha party.
Madhav Nepal, a former prime minister and chairman of the CPN(Unified Socialist), did not rule out the possibility of finding a new ally to form a government. The NC will emerge as the single largest party but it will not have the numbers to form the government, he said.
"Let the final result come. We have still not decided with whom we will ally," said Madhav Nepal. He said the new government has to maintain cordial relations with both India and China because Nepal has no other option.
KP Sharma Oli, a former prime minister and chairman of the CPN-UML, has proposed to CPN(Maoist Centre) Chairman Prachanda that they should go forward by working together to form the new government, a senior leader close to Prachanda said. After breaking an alliance with Oli around 18 months ago, Prachanda sided with the NC and formed a five-party coalition government under the leadership of Deuba.
During the election campaign, Deuba spoke of the need to work with India and China, said Anand Sharma, a business owner in New Delhi who hails from Kathmandu.
Key agreement
In 2016, when Oli was the prime minister, he signed a Transit and Transportation Agreement that enabled Nepal to access Chinese land and sea ports, reducing Nepal's reliance on India for the movement of goods. In 2017, the country joined the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative. The next year, Oli visited China to deepen ties. Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Nepal in October 2019 and committed $493 million in aid to the country.
China has huge investments in Nepal, while India has long-standing social, economic and cultural links with its Himalayan neighbor. Therefore, both countries are interested in what is happening in Nepal, said Sukh Deo Muni, a former diplomat and professor emeritus at the School of International Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi.
According to official Nepali data, Chinese investors committed $195.74 million in foreign direct investment to Nepal during the first six months of the 2021-22 fiscal year.
China's outgoing ambassador to Nepal, Hou Yanqi, in an article in October in The Kathmandu Post, took note of Nepal's parliamentary elections and expressed hope that bilateral relations would "continue to reach new levels".
Nepal's $38 billion economy is expected to expand 4.7 percent in the current fiscal year that began in mid-July, according to the Asian Development Bank. Nearly one-fifth of the country's people are said to live on less than $2 a day.
The writer is a freelance journalist for China Daily.

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