Xi’s visit has high prospect in political, economic and diplomatic area

Chinese President Xi Jinping with President of Nepal Bidhya Devi Bhandari on his official visit to Nepal in 2019

Published on: October 5, 2019

By Manish Jung Pulami

From the start of 2019, Nepal has been engaged in the diplomatic conundrum due to BRI and Indo-Pacific Strategy, but Nepal’s adherence to non-alignment policy has been applaudable. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s visit to Nepal on September 8, has paved the way for the awaited visit of the Chinese President Xi Jinping. In the world full of “summit inflation”, Nepal has been lagging in the international arena. Before this, there has been a minimal number of high-level visits from China. Jiang Zemin was the last Chinese president to visit Nepal in 1996 and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in 2012.

Summit diplomacy is a constructive way of conducting international relations. President Bidhya Devi Bhandari visited China in April this year to participate in the second Belt and Road Forum on International Cooperation, elucidating Nepal’s mission to engage both the neighbouring countries in economic diplomacy. Nepal is heading towards political stability with its sole commitment to “Prosperous Nepal, Happy Nepali”, and Nepal has given high importance to China following Nepal’s development targets.

From the explanation of Nepal’s geostrategic position by King Prithivi Narayan Shah’s Yam theory, the colonial construct of a buffer zone, King Birendra’s proposed Zone of Peace and so-called transit economy, Nepal has desired to develop as a vibrant bridge between the two Asian giants, India and China.

This visit by the Chinese President has a high level of prospect in the political, economic and diplomatic area. This high-level visit could be an ideal private consultation, bypassing multiple bureaucratic layers and the external influences between the two countries. So, this geostrategic change challenge can be also a platform to exhibit the equi-proximal foreign policy of Nepal. Nepal as a small nation, summit diplomacy is an important foreign policy tool to secure the position in the international arena and also has a high significance for its infrastructural development, especially macro-economic stability.

Although it is difficult to measure the success of summitry, it is easy to see that this form of dialogue has distinct diplomatic functions. Most importantly, President Xi’s visit to Nepal should not convey a message of any alignment that puts Nepal’s values at risk but should convey that, “Nepal is neither looking North, nor looking South, but Nepal is looking forward.”

The article was originally published in The People’s Review Weekly.

Manish Jung Pulami is a PhD candidate/Research Scholar at Department of International Relations, South Asian University in New Delhi, India.