China’s patience key to resolving doubts, addressing delays over B&R-related projects

By Hu Weijia Source:Global Times Published: 2018/6/6 22:33:40

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday denied media reports saying that the Nepalese government might have cancelled a deal with a State-owned Chinese company to build the West Seti hydropower project.

The ministry said that negotiations covering concrete details of the cooperation were ongoing between the related Chinese enterprise and the Nepalese side.

The 750-megawatt West Seti Hydropower Project in the far western region of Nepal was handed over to the China Three Gorges Corp in 2012, according to the Xinhua News Agency. The hydropower station is a commercial project, so we must avoid a situation in which the project's fate is decided by political considerations, rather than economic factors.

Only 76 percent of Nepalese people have access to electricity, data from global energy access partnership Energising Development has showed.

The Himalayan country has abundant water resources, but a lack of funds has kept it from taking advantage of its hydropower potential.

"The Nepali government has a strong desire to explore its energy potential, especially in water resources, by attracting investment from China," Minister for Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation Barsha Man Pun was quoted by Xinhua as saying on Tuesday.

If the Chinese and Nepalese sides can reach a consensus on economic issues such as power rates and continue pushing forward the project, Chinese investment in Nepal's energy sector is likely to contribute substantially to improving the local economy and reducing poverty.

Several Indian media outlets have paid close attention to the West Seti project.

Nepal's desire to explore its hydropower potential has prompted a rush by China and India to invest in the Himalayan country.

This isn't necessarily bad if competition between China and India can help Nepal improve its electric power system.

India has long seen Nepal as part of its sphere of influence, so China's growing presence in the country has sparked concern.

China's investment in the Himalayan country will inevitably involve some delicate matters such as trust between Beijing and New Delhi.

Some observers worry that China-funded hydropower projects in Nepal may raise questions about the safety of water in the downstream areas of India.

It will be a test of Nepal's wisdom to see if it can focus on the economic factors of foreign investment, without political interference.

China has recently encountered some setbacks in its overseas investment in Southeast Asia and South Asia.

China's government and people need to keep calm about these setbacks.

It will be a long process for everyone in the region to develop trust in the Belt and Road (B&R) initiative. Projects being developed under the initiative should be implemented step-by-step with patience, to allow for mutual benefit.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.


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