China's economic devt ushers in opportunities for Nepal: diplomat
Published: Jul 20, 2023 10:48 PM

Chhabindra Parajuli Photo: Courtesy of Chhabindra Parajuli

Chhabindra Parajuli Photo: Courtesy of Chhabindra Parajuli

The 68th anniversary of diplomatic ties between Nepal and China serves as an opportune moment to highlight the strong and amicable relations between the two countries, Chhabindra Parajuli, economy minister at the Embassy of Nepal in Beijing, told the Global Times in an exclusive interview ahead of the anniversary.

"China's rapid development has captivated the world, as it harnesses its unique strengths in modernization, mechanization of agriculture, advancements in free trade zones, and high-tech industrial parks," he said.

As August 1 marks the 68th anniversary of the establishment of the diplomatic relations between China and Nepal, the economy minister expressed his hope that both countries will further deepen cooperation on various fronts, especially on cultural exchanges.

He stressed that fostering tourism and cultural exchanges in both Nepal and China stands as a key strategy to strengthen cultural ties further.

"The abundance of natural resources and an investment-friendly environment in Nepal positions it as an enticing destination of choice for Chinese investors. In this era of globalization and regionalism, Nepal and China can forge fruitful collaborations on various fronts," he said.

According to him, a newfound enthusiasm for mutual cooperation is evident in the realms of trade, investment, and cultural exploration.

"China's growing middle-class population is set to drive rapid expansion in tourism, ensuring a promising future for the Nepal-China tourism relationship," he said.

Deepened people-to-people exchanges

According to Parajuli, the number of Chinese tourists visiting Nepal has steadily increased year-on-year, which is proof of rich people-to-people exchanges between the two countries, laying the foundation for robust bilateral relations.

On April 13, 2023, the first batch of Chinese trekkers arrived in the Nepali capital Kathmandu, bringing hope to Nepal's tourism hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Nepali performers even showcased their skills outside the airport to welcome the arrival of Chinese trekkers in Kathmandu, read a Xinhua report.

Nepali performers perform outside the airport to welcome the arrival of Chinese trekkers in Kathmandu, Nepal, April 13, 2023. Photo: Xinhua

Nepali performers perform outside the airport to welcome the arrival of Chinese trekkers in Kathmandu, Nepal, April 13, 2023. Photo: Xinhua

The growing middle-class population in China has brought about a surge in outbound travelers, with Nepal emerging as a preferred destination. China became the second-largest source of tourists for Nepal before the pandemic.

Recognizing the potential of Chinese tourists, Nepal has rolled out a warm welcome to Chinese tourists, introducing measures like visa-on-arrival, waived visa fees, and improved air connectivity.

The people-to-people exchanges between China and Nepal started more than 1,000 years ago. Looking back in history, one of the first foreign travelers to Nepal was the Chinese traveler and philosopher, Xuan Zang, an eminent Tang Dynasty (602-664) monk, marking the inception of Chinese tourism in Nepal.

Later, the renowned Nepali architect, Arniko further solidified ties between Nepal and China by venturing to China and designing and constructing pagoda-style temples in various locations. Among these cultural exchange symbols stands the White Dagoba Temple in Beijing, a testament to solid the China-Nepal friendship.

Beijing's White Dagoba celebrates China’s 7th Cultural and Natural Heritage Day, launching cultural week on June 10, 2023. Photos: Li Hao/GT

Beijing's White Dagoba celebrates China’s 7th Cultural and Natural Heritage Day, launching cultural week on June 10, 2023. Photos: Li Hao/GT

To cement cultural bonds, various promotional events and cultural festivals have been jointly organized in both countries. From the photo exhibition themed "Beautiful Nepal" in Beijing to the "China-Nepal Friendship Dragon Boat Race Festival" in Pokhara, the series of activities have effectively promoted friendship, cultural exchanges, and fostered deeper understanding between the two nations.

This month, the Confucius Institute at Kathmandu University said that it has trained nearly 50,000 Chinese-language professionals in Nepal since its inception 16 years ago, voicing its readiness to do more to promote cultural exchanges, Xinhua reported.

"The enduring legacy of cultural exchanges between the two ancient civilizations serves as a beacon, guiding their paths toward a harmonious and prosperous future," Parajuli told the Global Times.

Looking ahead

Tourism now plays a pivotal role in Nepal's economy. The development of Nepal's tourism industry has the potential to drive industrial linkages, supply chain maintenance, and create employment opportunities, Parajuli introduced.

Tourism also significantly contributes to the country's economic prosperity by creating employment opportunities, which in turn reduce poverty rates, and improve the standard of living for its people.

"China's rapid economic development has presented a plethora of opportunities for Nepal's tourism sector," Parajuli noted.

With policies aimed at developing tourism as a key driver of the national economy, Nepal is keen on expanding its market for meetings, conferences, and events. Initiatives such as building new international airports and introducing innovative tourism products reflect Nepal's determination to elevate its tourism industry.

The economy minister stressed that Nepal eagerly welcomes Chinese tourists and investors to partake in tourism infrastructure development projects and it extends an open invitation to all to explore its breathtaking landscapes and diverse cultural experiences.

"The availability of on-arrival visa services for Chinese travelers, the waiver of visa fees for Chinese nationals, and the convertibility of the Chinese Yuan for tourism and business purposes has made Nepal increasingly attractive to Chinese tourists and investors alike," he said.

At a recent WeChat Pay launch event in Nepal, Chinese Ambassador to Nepal Chen Song also highlighted the "favorable prospects of the Chinese tourist market" in Nepal.

"China is ready to enhance the synergy of policies with Nepal, not only limited to traditional sectors, but also breaking new ground in emerging fields such as financial service trade, unlocking great potential for mutually beneficial cooperation," Chen said.