Foreign Minister Shrestha urges China for free visas to Nepali nationals

Photo courtesy: Facebook page of Narayan Kaji Shrestha

Kathmandu: Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Narayan Kaji Shrestha has formally requested China to grant free visas to Nepali nationals intending to visit China. Minister Shrestha announced a positive reception from Chinese authorities regarding this proposal.

Returning to Kathmandu early Monday morning following a seven-day official visit to China, Minister Shrestha unveiled this development during a press conference convened at Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA).

He stated, “Since 2016, Nepal has extended free visas to Chinese tourists. In the spirit of reciprocity, I have advocated for similar visa provisions for Nepali travelers to China. The Chinese side has responded favorably to our appeal.”

Minister Shrestha’s visit to China commenced on March 24, following an invitation from the Chinese Foreign Minister. The visit featured a series of high-level discussions aimed at fortifying economic diplomacy between the two nations.

“My primary objective was to strengthen our economic ties and mutual interdependence with China for Nepal’s advancement and prosperity. I proposed the establishment of a development corridor linking Nepal with Tibet, Sichuan, and Chongqing in China as a pivotal initiative for our collective progress. These deliberations centered on our existing economic diplomacy priorities,” he elaborated.

The discussions also encompassed the finalization and implementation of Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects. Minister Shrestha outlined talks on various collaborative endeavors, including granting Nepali residents in border regions access to grazing lands in China’s Tibet Autonomous Region, electrifying Nepali border villages, reinstating direct bus services between Kathmandu and Lhasa, and establishing multifunctional labs along the Nepal-China border. The Chinese delegation expressed readiness to support the export of Nepali agricultural products and enhance productivity within the sector.

An accord to augment flights between Kathmandu, Pokhara, and various Chinese cities was forged, with the aim of invigorating trade, fostering people-to-people relations, and promoting tourism. Minister Shrestha underscored the reopening of the Rasuwagadhi-Kerung, Tatopani-Zhangmu, Yari-Purang, and Nechung-Lizi (Korala) trade routes, with China committing to reopening 14 traditional trade points shuttered due to the COVID-19 pandemic at the earliest opportunity.

Moreover, both nations consented to establish a joint commission at the foreign ministerial level to regularly deliberate on and enhance the friendly relations between Nepal and China.