Kathmandu, November 29
Chinese Defence Minister and State Councilor Wei Fenghe has arrived in Kathmandu on Sunday morning for a daylong sojourn. Diplomats have called this trip ‘a working visit’ as it is compact with a whirlwind of meetings.
So why is the top defence official in Nepal for just eight hours?
We have three possible answers for you:
1. To consolidate military partnership
The military partnership between the two neighbours had gained momentum over the past few years but got halted due to Covid-19 now. In addition, China had agreed to provide some military assistance to Nepal during the last visit of the then Defence Minister Ishwar Pokharel to Beijing; it is yet to be implemented. In this context, the Chinese defence minister is likely to propose consolidating the military partnership.
He will spend around two hours, which is more than a fourth of his time in Kathmandu, at the Nepal Army headquarters.
2. To address border encroachment concern
Recently, some reports have claimed China annexed a part of Nepal’s Humla district and constructed some buildings there. Although the governments in both Nepal and China consistently refuted the reports, Nepal’s main opposition party, Nepali Congress, has alleged China of border encroachment. Sources say Wei will talk about this issue also with the Nepali leadership.
3. To carry Xi Jinping’s message
The minister is the highest Chinese official to visit Nepal after President Xi Jinping’s visit in October last year. Many agreements were signed during the trip, but none of them has been implemented substantially.
Therefore, Wei will discuss various issues of bilateral concerns with the Nepali leadership in a follow-up to Xi’s visit. Likewise, he will also manifest the Chinese government’s concerns about the United States’ growing presence in the South Asian region.