Nepal and China might sign the BRI implementation plan today.

The 16th round of the Nepal-China diplomatic consultation mechanism meeting is set to be held in Kathmandu on Tuesday. Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, Sun Weidong, arrived in Kathmandu on Monday for the meeting and paid a courtesy call to Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal.

Foreign Secretary Sewa Lamsal will lead the Nepali delegation, which includes senior officials from various ministries, at the diplomatic consultation meeting.

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the meeting will focus on overall bilateral relations and cooperation between Nepal and China.

According to officials at the Prime Minister’s Office, China has proposed at least an initial signing of the implementation plan of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Such an initial signing typically leads to a full-fledged signing of an agreement at a later date.

But most likely, the implementation plan of the Belt and Road Initiative will be signed on Tuesday, a senior foreign ministry official said after the meeting between Prime Minister Dahal and Sun. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has forwarded the draft of the BRI implementation plan to the prime minister’s office for final approval. This draft, initially prepared by the Chinese side, was revised by the National Planning Commission in consultation with various line ministries before being forwarded for approval.

If the BRI implementation plan is signed, it will pave the way for project selection, execution and funding modality of the projects to be selected under the BRI.

Nepal and China signed the BRI framework agreement in 2017 and in line with it, China had proposed the implementation plan in early 2020. Due to the divergence of positions over how to take the BRI forward, the plan to sign the implementation plan has been in limbo for four years.

Two officials at the Prime Minister’s Office and Ministry of Foreign Affairs told the Post that during the meeting, the two sides would review and assess past agreements and accords signed during high-level visits after 2015. Former Prime Minister KP Oli has twice visited China after 2015, as has incumbent Prime Minister Dahal, while Chinese President Xi Jinping has paid a state visit to Nepal in October 2019.

“The status of bilateral relations as well as the understandings and agreements reached between the two sides after 2015 will be reviewed,” the officials added.

At the meeting, the Nepali side will call for establishing economic and development corridors with China. A proposal to this effect was made by Deputy Prime Minister Narayan Kaji Shretsha during his China visit in March.

During his meeting with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Beijing, Shrestha proposed the creation of an economic and development corridor linking Nepal, Tibet, Sichuan and Chongqing.

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