KATHMANDU, Dec. 31 (Xinhua) -- Nepal and China have seen significant development in their age-old friendly cooperation in wide-ranging areas during the past year.
With the beginning of 2018, Nepal entered into the era of economic prosperity ending a protracted political transition.
After coming to power in February, K.P. Sharma Oli-led new government adopted the principle of "amity with all, enmity with none" while handling its relations with foreign countries. The new government gave highest priority to its relationship with neighboring countries in its foreign policy.
Nepal-China ties remained stable throughout the year as the two countries worked tirelessly to further deepen their bilateral cooperation under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, senior Nepali officials told Xinhua.
Nepal's Foreign Secretary Bairagi told Xinhua on Sunday that Nepal attaches great importance to the Belt and Road Initiative. "We hope to enhance high-level exchanges between the two countries and carry out all-round friendly cooperation," he said.
The two countries maintained exchange of high level visits in 2018.
In June, Nepali Prime Minister Oli visited China and met with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
During their meeting, Xi said that China stands ready to strengthen cooperation with Nepal in infrastructure connectivity, post-disaster reconstruction, trade and investment under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative.
The two sides signed a slew of bilateral agreements, including the MoU on Cooperation for Railway Connectivity under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative, which was regarded as the most significant initiative in the history of their bilateral cooperation, as they believed that it would herald a new era of cross-border connectivity between the two neighbors.
In the field of investment, the two countries have enhanced their cooperation. In September, a consortium of Nepal's five commercial banks approved a credit worth 16 billion Nepali Rupees (140.48 million U.S. dollars) to Hongshi Shivam Cement Private Limited, a Nepal-China joint venture company. It was one of the largest ever financings pledged by Nepali commercial banks to any industry or infrastructure project.
Many China-assisted projects have been expedited in Nepal in 2018. Construction of two separate terminal buildings, one for international and another for domestic flights, had started at the China-assisted international airport in the western city of Pokhara in Nepal in August.
In September, Nepal and China concluded the protocol of Nepal-China Transit Transport Agreement (TTA) enabling the Himalayan country a vital access to China's sea and land ports for trading with third countries.
In 2018, the Nepalese Army and the Chinese People's Liberation Army held second round of joint military training in southwest China Sichuan province, focusing on hostage rescue in combating international terrorist organizations.
Nepal's Defence Minister Ishwar Pokhrel visited Beijing and held talks with his Chinese counterpart Wei Fenghe. After the talks, the Chinese minister announced to provide an assistance of 150 million RMB to Nepal over a period of five years for the purpose of humanitarian and disaster relief equipment.
To boost their cooperation in energy sector, Nepal and China agreed to facilitate joint investment in the power sector during the first meeting of the Nepal-China Joint Implementation Mechanism held in September.
In December, senior officials agreed to complete ongoing bilateral economic and development cooperation projects in a timely manner during the first meeting of Mechanism for Facilitation on the Implementation of China-Nepal Cooperation Programs and Projects in Nepal held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Kathmandu.
The 12th meeting of the Joint Consultation Mechanism between the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Nepal and China held in Beijing, where the two sides underlined the need to further enhance bilateral relations through close and productive engagements in areas of mutual interest, including connectivity, infrastructure development, trade, investment and energy.
Underlying the importance of generating a win-win situation for both countries, Nepal and China have been constructively engaged in finalizing the joint feasibility study on China-Nepal Free Trade Agreement (FTA), according to senior Nepali officials.