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  • वि.सं २०७८ कार्तिक ४ बिहीबार
  • Thursday, 21 October, 2021
२०७७ श्रावण १६ शुक्रबार ०४:०५:००
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Some forces are trying to pull China into Indo-Nepal Issues : Hou Yanqi, Chinese ambassador to Nepal

Read Time : > 13 मिनेट
२०७७ श्रावण १६ शुक्रबार ०४:०५:००

It seems that China, who does not often involve to Nepal's internal affairs, has been active for some time. H.E. Hou Yanqi, the Chinese ambassador to Nepal, therefore, is at the center of not only Nepalese diplomatic sphere but also in political discussions. Yanqi's active and different diplomatic style has been taken as China's activism. As the ruling Communist Party of Nepal (NCP) has been embroiled in internal disputes in recent, her frequent and continuous meeting with its leaders and the former prime ministers, has been analyzed from different angles. Similarly, it is being analyzed in the Indian society that there was China in the border dispute between Nepal and India. Meanwhile, political and trade relations between China and the United States have also heated up world politics. Not only this, the success of China in controlling COVID-19 is also supposed to be exemplary model for the rest of the countries. On these issues, Naresh Gyawali has interviewed Hou Yanqi, the Chinese ambassador for Nepal.

 

  1. The world is struggling with Covid-19, but some countries have exemplarily controlled the epidemic, including China. How has China, a country with such a large population, been able to control the epidemic, and what can other countries learn from China's efforts?

A: Regarding China’s experience on fighting against COVID-19, It can be summarized as “3S”. The first “S” is “System”. We have made full use of institutional advantages and established a centralized and efficient command system. Under the command and guidance of President Xi Jinping, government departments at all levels have made well-coordinated control efforts. Local authorities and other stakeholders have lived up to their responsibilities and implemented each and every one of the decisions, plans and prohibitions of the central authorities, and strictly and effectively enforced all response measures. Thus, an effective and well-functioning whole-of-the-nation control mechanism is in place.

The second “S” is “Science”. A targeted, law- and science-based approach was adopted, and public health emergency response measures were rolled out on an unprecedented and extensive scale across the country. We implemented the policies of “early detection, reporting, quarantine and treatment” and “testing and hospitalizing of all who need to be tested and hospitalized, isolating and treating all who need to be isolated and treated”. We have done everything in our power to reduce infections to the minimum. The strictest closure and traffic restrictions were enforced on all outbound routes from Wuhan and Hubei to break the chains of transmission through early intervention. We also applied a region-specific, multi-level approach to epidemic prevention and control. There are three levels of risk: low, medium, and high. Regions could take measures according to the risk level, which was dynamic and adjusted in light of the evolving situation.

The issue of Kalapani is between Nepal and India. We hope the two countries will resolve their differences properly through friendly consultations and refrain from taking any unilateral action that may complicate the situation.

The third “S” is “Sacrifice”. All citizens share a responsibility for the fate of their country. The 1.4 billion Chinese people, irrespective of their gender, age, and occupation, have plunged themselves into the battle against the epidemic. Medical workers rose to the challenge. People in Wuhan and other parts of Hubei fought with resolve against the novel coronavirus and made sacrifices to contain its spread. Community workers, primary and community-level officials, officials sent to work in communities, police, and customs officers worked day and night to protect lives and public safety. Couriers, sanitation workers, transport employees, media workers, volunteers, and many people from other sectors of society also devoted themselves to the fight against the epidemic. Resilient and united, they represent a formidable force.

With the great efforts, China's pandemic situation has been basically controlled, but it still faces challenges such as the resurgence of the pandemic situation and imported risks. China will continue to fully implement a containment approach centering on preventing both case import and domestic resurgence, adhere to timely discovery, rapid disposal, precise control and effective treatment, to protect the safety and health of the people and to fully restore the economic and social order.

 

  1. But some critics are describing measures that China adopted to contain coronavirus as too harsh and too authoritative. How does China view this opinion?

A: Firstly, Covid-19 is a new virus and up to now there is no vaccine against it. In its quest for victory over the coronavirus, China has been mapping its own route to success – one based on reliable experience, tailored to its national conditions, and rooted in sound epidemiological practice. China is a country with a population of 1.4 billion and there are more than 11 million residents in Wuhan, the initial epicenter of the pandemic. The consequences would have been disastrous if no strict pandemic prevention measures had been adopted. Only with the strict measures taken to control sources of infection, to break the chains of transmission and to guard the community-based line of defense, can we contain the increasingly serious situation of the pandemic and achieve initial results. In fact, many countries around the world have followed the successful model of China, adopted strict pandemic prevention measures including lockdown and curfew, which leads to good results.

The Joint statement, signed between China and India in 2015, does not involve the sovereignty of the disputed territory. This traditional trade channel is only reserved for the convenience of the border residents. There’s no need to over-interpret this.

Secondly, Chinese people are strongly committed to collectivism. Although strict control measures may affect the freedom of travel and business activities, most Chinese people have shown a good understanding of these measures and were willing to temporarily sacrifice individual freedom and rights for the sake of overall and long-term interests of the society. Meanwhile, the social management and public service system is relatively complete in China's grassroots society. Most urban and rural citizens have a social tradition of helping each other. At the same time, there is a relatively developed e-commerce network and logistics system. People’s basic lives could be guaranteed under such strict measures.

Thirdly, the strict pandemic prevention measures reflected China’s respect to people’s lives. Life is above all! After the outbreak of the pandemic, we are committed to protecting the lives and health of our people at the expense of economic development. Employing proactive, science-based, and flexible ways of treatment, we did everything possible to treat each and every patient and to save every single patient whatever the cost. This is also the reason of the low mortality in China. At the beginning of the outbreak, China adopted strict measures such as complete suspension of group outbound travels and upgrade of customs quarantine to prevent the virus from spreading to other countries. These strict measures showed China’s responsibility for the lives and health of people around the world and have been widely appreciated by the World Health Organization and most of the countries.

 

  1. World renowned scholars have been saying that this pandemic will be an important marker in human history; and our time will be divided as pre and post-corona era. While some are predicting a new world order, where China will be a dominant power. What is China’s view in this?

A: We can see that COVID-19 has indeed brought a huge impact to countries all over the world, which has triggered extensive and in-depth thought in the international community. In my opinion, the impact of the pandemic on the international order is mainly reflected in three ways: Firstly, the risk of global recession is increasing. All the stakeholders are increasingly pessimistic on the trend of the world economy, and there may be a global economic recession driven by both the supply side and the demand side in the future.

Secondly, globalization is confronted with a huge test. The spread of the pandemic on a global scale has made globalization a “scapegoat”. Thoughts including populism, protectionism and anti-globalization are on the rise.

Thirdly, the weakness of governance on global non-traditional security fields have been highlighted. The problems arisen in the response to the pandemic in various countries have revealed the fact that the international community still lacks unified standards and mature solutions in assessing and responding to public health emergencies. It has become more realistic and urgent to improve and perfect the global governance system.

I have noticed that, whenever problems arise in relations between Nepal and India, there are always some forces trying to pull China into it. They create something out of nothing and make rumors. We feel very confused. I believe that these actions will not shake or interfere with overall situation of China-Nepal friendship.

The virus knows no borders, and everyone is equal in front of the pandemic. It once again proved that all mankind is a community with a shared future and no country can stay safe alone in front of the virus. We must transcend institutional differences and go beyond narrow zero-sum game thinking in order to continuously improve the global governance system.  As President Xi Jinping put it, “We should stand on right side of history, adhere to multilateralism and democracy in international relations, plan for development with openness, cooperation and win-win mind, unwaveringly promote economic globalization more open, inclusive and balanced so that its benefits are shared by all, and to build an open world economy.”  China is willing to continue to strengthen exchanges and cooperation in various fields with countries and international organizations around the world, and work together to promote the building of a community with a shared future for mankind and the well-being of people all over the world.

 

  1. Amidst pandemic, China has provided health kits and other assistance to many countries. It has also been analyzed that China is using this as an opportunity to bring countries in its side and efforts to increase polarization in the world. What is China's intention behind these aids during the pandemic?

A: The US has become the worst affected country. We would like to express deep sympathy for what the American people are going through, and our best wishes that they will defeat the virus soon. Early on in China's response, many American organizations, companies and citizens extended a helping hand. When the US was hit by the virus, China reciprocated their kindness, donated needed supplies and facilitated US procurement of medical supplies in China.

Nepal has officially become one of the important participants of BRI. The two countries are committed to strengthening cooperation in areas of connectivity, infrastructure, post-disaster reconstruction, trade, investment and people-to-people exchange, which has made many positive achievements.

As the largest developing country and the largest developed country, China and the US shoulder great responsibilities for global peace and development. Both China and the US stand to gain from cooperation and lose from confrontation: this best captures what we have learned from history. China and the US have different social systems, but this is the result of the different choices made by our people, which we must respect. It's also true that we have many disagreements, but that doesn't preclude cooperation.

China remains prepared to work with the US in the spirit of no conflict or confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation and build a relationship based on coordination, cooperation and stability. At the same time, China will defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity, its legitimate right to development, and its dignity and place in the world which the Chinese people have worked so hard to earn.

If you want to know more about China-US relations, I recommend you to follow the articles and interviews of H.E. Cui Tiankai, Chinese Ambassador to the US. I believe it will help you understand China’s position and views.

 

  1. US-China relation is reached at most fragile point during this pandemic. Indeed, this will not benefit the world. How did the most powerful countries in the world come to this situation?

A: Life is supreme, respect for life is to protect the most important human rights. Even though we were in a huge demand for medical supplies, we have managed to provide surgical and N95 masks, personal protective equipment(PPE)s, nucleic acid test kits and other assistance to more than 120 countries and a number of international organizations at the beginning of the pandemic. Besides, we provided assistance to many countries in their commercial procurement in China, and shared our prevention and control experience with the world including video conferences and medical teams. This fully reflects China’s sense of duty and responsibility.

Regarding MCC, this is a matter between Nepal and the US. I don’t want to compare BRI with MCC. We believe that Nepal will make corresponding choices based on its national interests and conducive to regional peace and stability.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, various countries have experienced the problem of lacking of medical resources. The medical infrastructures of some countries are relatively weak and are unable to treat patients properly. We don't want to see people lost their lives, so we carry forward the spirit of internationalism and do our best to provide medical supplies and experience sharing to countries around the world. However, some western countries and politicians politicized the pandemic and used it as a weapon to stigmatize China out of national and even personal interests. It is slur on China’s contribution to the world health system.

President Xi Jinping announced at the Opening of the 73rd World Health Assembly that, COVID-19 vaccine development and deployment in China, when available, will be made a global public good. This will be China's contribution to ensuring vaccine accessibility and affordability in developing countries. This shows that China will continue to uphold the concept of respecting the right to life and contribute to the efforts fighting against pandemic by the countries around the world, especially developing countries. If there are countries or individuals who still think this is out of political intent, then I suggest that they do not use the Chinese vaccine.

 

  1. Let’s turn to Nepal-China relations. Recently, Chinese side seen active amidst the assumption that the ruling party of Nepal NCP might be divided. You have been in meeting with leaders of ruling party. And there were telephone talk between Nepal and China's President and foreign ministers in background. Why China has played such an active role? Doesn't this bring negative consequences in future?

A: Since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries in 1955, we have developed friendly ties on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. Non-interference in each other’s internal affairs is a principle consistently followed by the governments of the two countries, and will not change due to any variation in the domestic, international and regional situations of the two countries.

Since the pandemic in the two countries had developed a new stage, Chinese President Xi Jinping and State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi spoke on the phone respectively with Nepali President Bidya Devi Bhandari and Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali on April 27th and 13th. The two sides mainly exchanged opinions on cooperation on fighting against the pandemic and implementation of leaders’ consensus, etc. As far as I know, President Xi Jinping and State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi have respectively spoken on the phone with leaders, ministers of the countries and heads of international organizations 54 times and 104 times since the outbreak of the pandemic.

Nepal is an independent country, no country should interfere in Nepal’s internal affairs. It is a normal diplomatic action to exchange opinions between countries on development and bilateral cooperation. If normal meetings or calls were regarded as interference into internal affairs, there would be no diplomacy between countries.

As a friendly neighbor of Nepal, we sincerely hope to see that Nepal maintains stability and unity, which is the prerequisite for national development. The Nepali government put forward development goal of “Prosperous Nepal, happy Nepali”, and is committed to defending its sovereignty and territorial integrity. We support and respect those efforts.

 

  1. Disagreement between India and Nepal has increased in recent. But, China is also dragged in this issue, though even Nepalese are not clear about China's position on Lipulek. As in 2015, China and India were agreed to pursue bilateral trade through Lipulek. Nepal was not consulted before signing the agreement to pursue trade through Nepalese Land. That’s why Nepal Government has opposed sending the protest note to both the neighbors. Recently, India inaugurated road to Lipulek to which Nepal responded strongly with the release of new map including Lipulek and Limpiadhura. How does China watch these developments and what is her opinion?

A: I’d like to reiterate that the Chinese side has always respected for sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Nepali side. The issue of Kalapani is between Nepal and India. We hope the two countries will resolve their differences properly through friendly consultations and refrain from taking any unilateral action that may complicate the situation.

The Joint statement, signed between China and India in 2015, does not involve the sovereignty of the disputed territory. This traditional trade channel is only reserved for the convenience of the border residents. There’s no need to over-interpret this.

I have noticed that, whenever problems arise in relations between Nepal and India, there are always some forces trying to pull China into it. They create something out of nothing and make rumors. We feel very confused. I believe that these actions will not shake or interfere with overall situation of China-Nepal friendship.

 

  1. MCC is another issue here in Nepal. Nepal has been discussing in its system, but China is also dragged even on it. Nepal may accept or reject MCC and BRI on its own interest. But, there is buzz in Kathmandu that China is using different informal channel to stop Nepal from participating in MCC? What is your reaction?

A: Since the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on bilateral cooperation within the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative between China and Nepal in 2017, Nepal has officially become one of the important participants of BRI. The two countries are committed to strengthening cooperation in areas of connectivity, infrastructure, post-disaster reconstruction, trade, investment and people-to-people exchange, which has made many positive achievements.

Regarding MCC, this is a matter between Nepal and the US. I don’t want to compare BRI with MCC. We believe that Nepal will make corresponding choices based on its national interests and conducive to regional peace and stability.