Experts call for enhanced connectivity between China, South Asia under Belt and Road Initiative

Source: Xinhua| 2017-11-14 14:22:47|Editor: Liangyu
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KATHMANDU, Nov. 14 (Xinhua) -- Experts stressed the need to enhance connectivity and trade between China and South Asia under the Belt and Road Initiative here on Monday.

Speaking at a forum entitled "Contours of Belt and Road Initiative for South Asia" in Kathmandu, experts said the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative has brought opportunities for both China and South Asia to increase their partnership in the fields of trade, connectivity, tourism and people-to-people contacts.

Chief guest of the event Mahendra Bahadur Pandey, the former foreign minister of Nepal, said the Belt and Road Initiative offers a good opportunity to South Asian countries including Nepal and India to further strengthen their cooperation among themselves and with neighboring regions.

"Nepal and South Asian countries can enhance their land and maritime connectivity with China, Central Asia, Southeast Asia and the rest of the world through this initiative," he said.

Pandey, also a leader of Nepal's CPN (UML) party, said his country wants to share the benefits from the growth of China and seek technical and financial support through the Belt and Road Initiative.

At the forum organized by Kathmandu-based think tank Nepal-China Friendship Forum, distinguished scholars from Nepal, China, India, Bangladesh and Pakistan discussed in detail the opportunities and implications of the Belt and Road Initiative.

Nepal's veteran economist Dr. Shanker Sharma said there is potentiality for Nepal to diversify its trade under the initiative.

Shafqat Munir, president of Pakistan-based think tank Journalists for Democracy and Human Rights, highlighted the benefits of connectivity projects in Pakistan such as China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

Su Changhe, professor of international relations at Fudan University of China, said that the Belt and Road Initiative is an open and inclusive concept pushed forward by Chinese President Xi Jinping.

He underscored the importance of related countries pursuing cooperation in various fields under the initiative, saying that it will create win-win development among participating countries.

"The Belt and Road Initiative is a concert for all players, not a platform for a single country or actor," the professor said.

In her address, Chinese Ambassador to Nepal Yu Hong said China has already become a major investor in South Asia.

"In South Asian countries, there is a huge demand for infrastructure and investment including power supply, communication, road construction and so on," she said.

"There is great potential on project contracting cooperation between China and South Asia under the Belt and Road Initiative."

Nepali Finance Secretary Shankar Prasad Adhikari said Nepal and China signed a memorandum of understanding in May 2017 on the Belt and Road Initiative. The Nepali government is now reviewing possible infrastructure and connectivity projects under this framework.

"We are open to enhance cooperation in all of them, particularly in expanding trans-Himalayan railways and roadway projects, infrastructure development, trade and investment," he said.

Chairman of the Nepal-China Friendship Forum Kalyan Raj Sharma said that the concept of the Belt and Road Initiative envisages a connectivity vision of an unprecedentedly wide scale.

"It provides a new dimension of economic development through larger connectivity and closer cooperation among the participating nations," he said.

With the implementation of the initiative, Nepal also expects to help realize the proposed Nepal-China-India trilateral cooperation for economic development among the countries involved, Sharma said.