Chinese delegation resumes talks with Nepali leaders; meets NC leader Deuba

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Kathmandu, Dec 29 (PTI) Guo Yezhou, a vice-minister of the Communist Party of China, on Tuesday met the main opposition Nepali Congress chief Sher Bahadur Deuba and discussed the latest political developments in the country following the dissolution of Parliament by Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli.

The meeting between the four-member delegation led by Guo, the Vice Minister of the International Department of the CPC, and former prime minister Deuba also focused on relations between Nepal and China, The Kathmandu Post quoted shadow foreign minister Narayan Khadka as saying.

They discussed the latest political developments in Kathmandu, the paper said.

Guo conveyed an invitation to Deuba from Chinese President Xi Jinping to visit China on the 100th anniversary of the CPC next year, said Dinesh Bhattarai, former foreign relations adviser to Deuba when he was prime minister.

On his part, Deuba congratulated President Xi, the CPC and the people of China on the occasion, said Bhattarai. The CPC will organise a grand function to mark the occasion in Beijing next year.

They discussed matters of bilateral interest and concern, said Bhattarai. Both Khadka and Bhattarai were present during the meeting between the Chinese delegation and Deuba.

Guo also lauded the contribution made by Nepali Congress' founding president and the first elected prime minister B P Koirala in improving relations between the two countries.

Deuba said that the friendship between the NC and the CPC goes back decades and nurtured since the premiership of Koirala.

In 1960, when Koirala was the prime minister, Nepal and China signed a peace and friendship treaty, the first boundary protocol, resolved the dispute over Mount Everest and gave a new direction to the Nepal-China ties, Bhattarai said.

Guo, who personally knows many Nepali leaders, met Deuba after holding talks with President Bidya Devi Bhandari, Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli, Nepal Communist Party (NCP) chairs Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ and Madhav Nepal, former prime minister Jhananath Khanal and leader of the Janata Samajbadi Party Baburam Bhattarai.

Besides assessing the ground situation, the Chinese side also discussed possible political ramifications of house dissolution, whether it will have an impact on stability and development of Nepal, status of Nepal-China ties, progress made in China-funded projects, implementation of past accords and agreements among others, according to leaders who met the CPC delegation.

Nepal plunged into a political crisis on December 20 after Prime Minister Oli, known for his pro-Beijing leanings, in a surprise move, recommended dissolving the 275-member House, amidst a tussle for power with Prachanda.

Acting on the prime minister's recommendation, President Bhandari dissolved the House the same day and announced fresh elections on April 30 and May 10, sparking protests from a large section of the NCP led by Prachanda, also a co-chair of the ruling party.

A wary China rushed Vice Minister Guo to Kathmandu after its high-profile ambassador to Nepal Hou Yanqi failed to sort out differences between Oli and Prachanda.

China is not happy with the split in the largest communist party of Nepal, according to sources.

Guo is trying to patch up differences between the two warring factions of the ruling party - one led by Oli and the other led by Prachanda - during his four day stay in Nepal, the media reports said.

Earlier, Gou travelled to Kathmandu in February 2018 when Oli-led CPN-UML and Prachanda-led NCP (Maoist Centre) - were all set to merge and form a unified communist party following victory of their alliance in the 2017 general elections. Later in May, 2018, the two communist parties merged and formed a new party named NCP.

Guo is assessing the situation of the ruling party and encouraging both factions of the NCP to seek some kind of common ground for party unity.

This is not the first time that China has intervened in Nepal's internal affairs.

In May and July, Hou held separate meetings with the president, the prime minister and other senior NCP leaders, including Prachanda, when Oli was facing mounting pressure to step down.

A number of political party leaders had termed the Chinese envoy’s series of meetings with the ruling party leaders as interference in Nepal’s internal political affairs.

China's political profile in Nepal has been on the rise in recent years with billions of dollars of investments under its multi-billion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative, including the Trans-Himalayan Multi-Dimensional Connectivity Network.

Besides the investments, China's ambassador to Nepal Hou has made open efforts to garner support for Oli.

The CPC and NCP were regularly engaged in training programmes. In September last year, the NCP had even organised a symposium, inviting some CPC leaders to Kathmandu to impart training to Nepali leaders on the Xi Jinping thought ahead of the visit of the Chinese president, his first to Nepal, according to a Kathmandu Post report. PTI CPS ZH CPS