China’s Li Zhanshu will touch down in Nepal today: According to authorities, Li Zhanshu, China’s third-highest leader, will make his third high-level visit to Nepal since foreign minister Wang Yi’s trip there in March.
Li’s visit comes amid worries in Beijing about the US’ growing influence in Nepal. Where a general election is only weeks away. Despite authorities remaining mum about the visit’s agenda.
According to officials at the Foreign Ministry, he will make a courtesy visit to both Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba and President Bidhya Devi Bhandari.
At the same time, most other meetings will be with the leaders of other communist parties. Including Maoist Party’s Pushpa Kamal Dahal and CPN-K UML’s P Sharma Oli. They are also the presiding officers of both chambers of Parliament.
According to the above sources, Agni Prasad Sapkota, Speaker of the Nepal House of Representatives, invited Li to visit Nepal. According to the sources, the Parliament is in charge of organizing most of the visiting leader’s activities in the nation.
The delegation will be led by Li, the Chinese Speaker and head of the standing committee of the National People’s Congress. His four-country tour, which includes stops in Mongolia, South Korea, and Russia, ends in Nepal.
The leader is attempting to gauge the likely poll results. The communist parties that China had helped bring together during the last elections have now split apart and are contesting the polls as bitter rivals. With elections just nine weeks away, many see Li’s visit as merely observational.
However, Dr. Rupak Sapkota, a specialist on China issues, argues the visit before the elections is merely a coincidence.
Rupak Sapkota, the Speaker’s son, said, “Communist unity may be China’s aim. But it’s conscious that the two countries have unique political structures. It’s only reasonable for constitutional wings of the state and other institutions to have cordial ties.”
Many feel that the frequency of critical Chinese officials’ travels to Nepal, which equals that of US officials, demonstrates that China is warier of the US approach in the country. Especially after the US obtained Nepal’s permission for the $500 million “Millennium Challenge Corporation” deal.
Concerns from China have increased due to Nepal’s criticism of Russia for the invasion of Ukraine and US attempts to press for a military exchange with Nepal despite that country’s refusal.
Concerns have also raised concerning the closing of Tatopani and Kerung, Nepal’s two checkpoints with China.
Since Speaker Sapkota represents one of these regions in the legislature. He is expected to ask Li for help opening the checkpoints given the Nepali festival seasons of Dashain and Tihar.