Nepal and China are close neighbors on the two sides of the Himalayan Mountains and have a long history of glorious friendly ties. It is said that more than two thousand years ago, Manjushri came all the way from the Wutai Mountains in China to Nepal. He cut open the mountain with his sword and drained the water from the lake, thus creating the Kathmandu Valley. This beautiful legend gives vivid expression to the ardent desire of our two peoples for friendship. Historical records show that the friendly exchanges of Nepal and China date back to as early as the mid-7th century. At that time, Nepal and China already started exchanging emissaries. Fahien, a Chinese eminent monk in the Jin Dynasty and Huen Tsang, another Chinese eminent monk in the Tang Dynastry, came to Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha, on pilgrimages. Songtsen Gompo, King of the Tubo Kingdom in the Tang Dynasty married a Nepalese princess Bhrikuti. The Nepalese artisan Arniko built a Buddhist pagoda in Lhasa in the Yuan Dynasty. The White Pagoda in Beijing&rsquos Miao Ying Temple was also built under his supervision. All these stories and historical facts show that Nepal-China traditional friendship is solidly based.
The establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries in 1955 opened up whole new vistas for the friendship and cooperation between China and Nepal. This owes much to the commitment and dedication of several generations of Chinese and Nepalese leaders. Such friendship is a great asset of our two peoples. The leaders of both past and present have brought about the flowering of Nepal-China friendship with their wisdom, vision and unremitting efforts. Thanks to their untiring efforts made over half a century, exchanges and cooperation between Nepal and China in political, diplomatic, economic and trade, cultural, educational and other fields have borne rich fruit. Indeed, Nepal-China relations have become a model of friendly cooperation for countries of different social systems and neighboring countries to live in friendship and harmony.
To look back the friendly history of Nepal-China relations, three obvious characteristics can be easily concluded, which have enabled Nepal-China friendship to maintain its strong momentum of growth over the years.
However, especially after the end of the cold war and with the disappearance of the international power equation, this situation and assumption too has disappeared. Now, the People&rsquos Republic of China has undeniably emerged as a power to be reckoned with. As far as the question of its role in this region is concerned, it has assumed such an instrumental dimension that without inviting or obtaining its active cooperation most of the problems affecting the nations here cannot reach any effective and enduring solution.
It is against this background or reality that we in Nepal should make dispassionate attempts at understanding this important nature of China, which is situated in the adjacent neighborhood of ours. Not only our boundary is common but there are innumerable bonds of similarities which have brought Nepal and China inextricably close to each other. It is a matter of extreme satisfaction that at present (barring the situation that prevailed during the British imperialistic past in the region), there does not exist any problem that affects this enviable tie.
China, as the historical records maintain, has always come forward to resolve any problem in accordance with terms, which Nepal deemed agreeable to it. These sterling traits of the Chinese attitude and policy towards Nepal which have been contributing quite creatively in the smooth and healthy growth of Nepal-China ties in various areas of socio-economic development.
Nepal&rsquos foreign policy is based on its geo-political realities, which originate from its location of being sandwiched in between two giant boulders-India and China.
Relations between Nepal and China, undeniably, have got to be developed, maintained and promoted on a still more realistic footing.
It has, as such, become essential that these traditionally most happy and unconditional bonds of mutual trust and cooperation should be developed on new plains.
These new horizons concern the need of introducing a free trade system between Nepal and China.
Yet another and really more prominent is the need for opening up a new vista of implementing development projects on the basis of equal benefits and obligations which, will undoubtedly provide a really more valuable and concrete vision as well as dimensions to Nepal-China cooperation in the overall socio-economic development of Nepal.
It is not an age of depending merely on the hackneyed tradition of aid and debt based cooperation but on active trade oriented relationship in which both the nations feel they are being benefited from each other.
China is closely watching the recent political development in Nepal and wants her politically stable.
In the past, even the border disputes, which had been left unsettled by history, was resolved through peaceful negotiations to the satisfaction and dignity of both countries. It may be recalled here that the historic ties enjoyed by Nepal and China collapsed in the early 19th century after the latter slipped into most difficult phase in its history. But this void did not last long as the relationship between the two countries was again rejuvenated following the establishment of diplomatic relation between Nepal and China in the year 1955.
All know that New Delhi is always looking for this opportunity to throw her diplomatic and military weight around in the sub-continent in order to assert her regional supremacy. But quite on the contrary to this notion, India has completely stopped helping Nepal resolve the present crisis. Instead, India has only skillfully exploiting Nepal&rsquos crisis to its advantage in order to serve its own interest here. Obviously, Nepal can in no way neglect its own national interest. Among Nepal&rsquos top national priority is the maintenance of its proud history of national sovereignty.
The first is trust. The two countries never threat each other, harm each other or doubt each other but always respect each other, believe each other and help each other. The Chinese Government and people, who firmly pursue the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries, have never interfered with the internal affairs of Nepal and highly respect the road of development chosen by the Nepalese people. Nepal and her people will continue to hold the firm solidarity and generous support that China has been lending to every endeavour made by Nepal in the highest regard.
The second is equality. The Chinese Government and people firmly pursue the principle that a country is equal with others no matter how big or small it is. Following that, China has all along developed relations on the base of equality with Nepal. China has consistently supported Nepal in its effort to safeguard sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity. In the past 54 years, abiding by the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, through equal dialogue, communication and coordination, Nepal and China have made excellent cooperation and achieved greater accomplishments in bilateral political relations, regional affairs and international forums.
The third is sincerity. China treats Nepal as its closest neighbor and intimate friend. Over the past 54 years, with China&rsquos financial and technical assistance, more than 30 projects have been completed in Nepal. As recognized by people of all circles in Nepal, these projects have played a constructive role in the social and economic development of Nepal. The Arniko Highway, the Ring Road, stadium and the Birendra International Convention Center, assisted by China, are among the best examples. In return, the Nepalese Government and people has shown friendly sentiments to China and delivered its valuable support to Chinese people.
In recent years, the relations between Nepal and China have developed more rapidly. The top leaders exchanged visits frequently and the two countries carried out cooperation smoothly.
It is, indeed, a matter of great pride and glad to see that the people-to-people contacts between our two countries have unfolded rapidly and smoothly over the past years. In 2001, the two countries signed the Memorandum of Understanding on Tourism Cooperation, including Nepal into the list of the tourism destination for outbound Chinese travelers. Later on, the two countries signed &ldquoAir Service Agreement&rdquo, according to which, Air China opened a direct air link between Nepal and China in 2004, by route of Chengdu-Lasha-Kathmandu. In addition, the China Southern Airline has been operating air service between Guangzhou and Kathmandu since February, 2007.
Nepal and China have also maintained sound coordination and cooperation in regional and international affairs such as peace, development, human rights and UN reform. We share the common views on many issues related to our mutual concern.
The relations between the two armies are an important component of the overall relations between China and Nepal. In the past years, the military relations and cooperation between Nepal and China have experienced continuous development. Nearly all the former Army Chiefs and Defense Secretaries of Nepal have visited China. The Defense Minister and the General Chief of Staff of China have also visited Nepal. China has rendered help and assistance to enable Nepal to consolidating its security. Since 1998, the Nepal Army has been sending its officers and soldiers to study in Chinese military universities. In the academic year of 2006/2007 in particular, 21 officers and soldiers of the Nepal Army went to China for training. China has also been sending its military officers to participate in the adventure trainings organized by the Nepal Army since 2002.
If one is to look across the globe, it is easy to come to the conclusion that peace, stability, cooperation and development are the prime calling of the times and the common aspiration of the mankind. Both Nepal and China should build on past achievements and push ahead to take Nepal-China good-neighborliness, friendship and cooperation to newer and greater heights. No matter what changes take place in Nepal, China&rsquos friendly policy towards Nepal can safely be expected to remain unchanged.
In recent years, Nepal has been affected by conflicts and instability. As an immediate neighbor and close friend of Nepal, China has shown great concern to help Nepal to overcome undesirable obstacles. China has also tried its best to play a constructive role in urging all sides in Nepal to solve problems through dialogues and talks.
The frequent assurance on the part of China that it will adopt every possible measure to enable Nepal to safeguard its independence, sovereignty and national integrity corroborates the fact that the northern neighbour always wishes for the greater well-being of Nepal.
The Chinese Government is obviously committed to pursuing cooperation with Nepal in all areas. In this light, it will not be irrational to say that Nepal can well reap big benefits from the phenomenal socio-economic progress being made by China. After all, strengthening cooperation of mutual benefit and promoting common development are our shared aspirations and serve our mutual interests. As China is ready to further increase friendly exchanges with the Nepalese Government, political parties and people of all walks of life, and expand bilateral exchanges and cooperation in politics, economy, trade, culture and tourism, Nepal must respond to this willingness of China in as positive manner as possible.