Connected by the highest peak of the world: A review of Nepal-China friendship

Nepal and China face each other on Mount Qomolangma, internationally known as Mount Everest. Although the world’s highest mountain blocks the two countries, it does not hinder the profound friendship between the two peoples across the long river of history. Instead, it is a symbol of friendship between the two countries from generations to generations. It not only borders but also acts as the peak of friendship between China and Nepal.

Since the establishment of diplomatic ties between Nepal and China on August 1, 1955, China-Nepal relations have been developing in a sustained, stable and sound way no matter how the international situation changes.

After the Wenchuan earthquake in China in 2008, the Nepali government and people donated money and materials enthusiastically. After the 2015 earthquake in Nepal, China immediately extended a helping hand and made great efforts to assist in the post-disaster reconstruction. The two peoples are true friends.

File: Presidents of Nepal and China, Bidya Devi Bhandari and Xi Jinping respectively (R-L), meet, in Kathmandu, on Saturday, October 12, 2019.

President Xi Jinping’s state visit to Nepal on Oct 12, 2019, was his first visit to the friendly neighbour and the first visit by a Chinese president to the country in 23 years. The two countries issued a joint statement, stating the two sides would like to advance cooperation on climate change and ecological and environmental protection given that Mount Qomolangma is an eternal symbol of China-Nepal friendship. They also announced the two sides would jointly announce the height of Mount Qomolangma and conduct scientific research cooperation.

On April 30, 2020, the 65th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Nepal marked the official launch of the 2020 Qomolangma Elevation Survey, a new measure to develop the friendship between the two countries.

On December 8, 2020, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Nepali President Bidya Devi Bhandari exchanged letters, formally announcing to the world on behalf of China and Nepal that the new height of Mount Qomolangma is 8,848.86 meters, ending decades of debate on the height of the world’s highest peak. The year 2020 also marked the 60th anniversary of the first successful ascent of Mt Qomolangma from the north slope and the 45th anniversary of the first accurate measurement and announcement of the height of Mt Qomolangma in China. It is of great historical significance to carry out the height measurement of Mt Qomolangma.

Since the signing of the One Belt And One Road cooperation memorandum of understanding between China and Nepal, the two countries have made many positive achievements in cooperation in connectivity, infrastructure, post-disaster reconstruction, economy, trade and investment, people-to-people exchanges and other fields. For example, in terms of economic and trade investment, in 2019, China’s project contract value and turnover in Nepal increased by 12.9% and 39.6% year-on-year, China’s non-financial direct investment in Nepal increased by 96.1% and the total bilateral trade between China and Nepal increased by 37.9% year-on-year.

China has become Nepal’s second-largest source of tourists. More than 6,400 Nepali students are studying in China. Various China-aided projects have made significant progress.

On connectivity cooperation between China and Nepal, it is the common aspiration of the two peoples to build a cross-border railway. The two sides have announced the launch of a feasibility study on the project and are steadily advancing relevant work in accordance with the consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries. We believe that as long as the two sides work together, there will be a way out one day. While pushing forward the railway project, relevant departments of the two countries are making joint efforts on the upgrading and renovation of the China-Nepal highways and the construction of port infrastructures.

The outbreak of novel coronavirus as a global public health event has given a serious blow to the Nepal Tourism Year 2020 project. Many Nepali tour operators say their number of visitors from the Chinese market is down by more than 80 per cent compared with the same period last year. But, China has given full support to Nepal in its fight against the epidemic. The two countries have worked side by side in the fight against the Covid-19 epidemic, writing a new chapter of China-Nepal friendship, which has spawned the Digital Silk Road and the Health Silk Road. After the epidemic is brought under control, China will also encourage more Chinese citizens to travel to Nepal and realise economic recovery. China will provide more government scholarships to outstanding young people from Nepal to cultivate more talents needed for Nepal’s development. We welcome more young Nepali students to study in China.

With the initiative of people from all walks of life in China and Nepal, the economic and trade cooperation between China and Nepal has become more extensive and expanded, which has exerted a positive impact on the economic and social development of Nepal and the improvement of people’s well-being. Nepal on the other side of the mountain has always been an old friend, extending a hand of friendship and holding hands with China on the top of Mount Qomolangma. China-Nepal relations and bilateral relations have entered a new era, and the friendship between the two countries across the Himalayas has reached a new height worthy of expectation.

Both of the writers are scholars of Sichuan Police College.

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