- Nepal and China have a long history of political, economic, religious, social and cultural relations. Although recorded history can be traced out only from early 5th century AD, we can infer based on the intense cultural affinities of either side whether Shakyamuni Buddha or the Confucius, it can be assumed that the civilizational contacts between Nepal and China could have been happened in the prehistoric period since. The story of Manjushree, known in China as Wen Shu Pu Sa, is narrated in Nepal as founder of Kathmandu valley who cut the gorge to drain out the water from the lake to make the Kathmandu Valley habitable.
- Nepali Monk Buddhabhadra who was born in Kapilvastu in 358 in the Shakya family came to China in the 5th century on the request of great Chinese Traveller Pao Yun, who was in a tour of South Asia, to enhance the learning on Buddhism. Buddhabhadra left for China with the Chinese delegation in 406 and arrived at Qingdao in 409 via Vietnam. Upon his arrival in China, he first went to Ch’ang-an, one of old Chinese capitals at that time. In 410 he went to Lu Shan with some forty disciples. The Emperor later invited to Jian Kang, the modern Nanjing, on the persuasion of Fa Xian, who had then returned from his visit of South Asia. The Emperor of China had accorded him a warm welcome at the imperial palace. He spent rest of his life in Nanjing. Great monk Buddha Bhadra spent his whole life in China serving the Chinese people by translating Buddhist scriptures from Shanskrit into Chinese and preaching Buddhism. Fifteen of his translated works are said to be still preserved in China. The most noted work which Buddhabhadra translated into Chinese in collaboration with Fa Xian was Maha-Parinirvana-Sutra (discourse on the Great Decease) in six volumes. Others included the Vinayapitaka (the code of monastic discipline) of the Mahasanghika School in thirty-four chapters, Mahasanghika Vinaya in forty volumes, Buddhanusmriti-Samadhi (a discourse on the contemplation of the Buddha), Samadhi Sutra, Vipulya Sutra, Ghava Sutra, Gyan Sutra and Manjushree Sutra of Swear Vow. Buddhabhadra and his contemporary Fa Xian were spiritually tied friends. Fa Xian had traveled to Lumbini, the birth place of Lord Buddha and Buddhabhadra. Knowing that Buddhabhadra has arrived in Nanjing, Fa Xian came back to China in 412 with all his scriptures to work together and translate them into Chinese. They remained together for the rest of their life in promoting Buddhist philosophy in China, which is still acclaimed by historians and scholars. Buddhabhadra earned great fame among the scholars and made many disciples A life-size bronze statue of Buddhabhadra is erected in the premises of Zhanshan Temple of Qingdao in 2011.) His tomb was kept in the famous Tongling Temple in Jiujiang city of Jiangxi Province. He is also known his Chinese name as Jue Xian Fa Shi means absolutely nice abbot/master.
- Nepal and China’s spiritual connections and friendly contacts were not only linked by the religious attachments but also widened by explorations, matrimonial ties and cultural exchanges in the following the early 5th century Buddha Bhadra- Fa Xian period. Xuan Zhang, a famous Chinese traveler, visited Lumbini and probably to Kathmandu, in the 7th century. His travelogue explains the life and economy of Kathmandu at that time. A magnificent palace mentioned in his travelogue called Kailashkut is still a subject to explore by the archaeologists. His voyage to South Asia during the pre-medieval time greatly helped exchange cultural values and philosophies of each other. Now, the travel writings of Xuan Zang have been a main source of then history of Nepal.
- A Nepali Princess Bhrikuti (Khridzun) was given in marriage to Tibetan King Songtsan Gampo in 639. It is said that she significantly contributed to introducing Buddhism in Tibet. She is also remembered for the construction of the first ancient temples in Tibet including Potala Palace and Jhokang temple. She brought artistic images of Arya Tara, Avalokiteshwara and Akshothya Buddha in Tibet from Nepal. Bhrikuti is usually represented as Harit Tara (Green Star) in Tibet. Potala Palace and Jokang temple, which bear the images of Bhrikuti, speaks of the greatness of our cultural and spiritual ties.
- Our shared cultural connections extend beyond these mighty Himalayas to embrace deep rooted arts, architectures and scripts having commonalities. The styles of the temples, old buildings, their window pans and wooden beams to name few that speak a volume about the strong influence cultures in either side for centuries. One of the most striking pieces of evidence is the continuity of the Ranjana script (scripts of Kathmandu based Newar ethnic community) used to inscribe sacred chants in the prayer wheels around Buddhist temples in China indicates the influence of Kathmandu in Chinese Buddhism. The script has been spread not only in Tibet but also throughout the monasteries of Chinese mainland and Mongolia.
- Inside Lama Temple or Yonghe Gong in Beijing, one of the most revered and famous places in China, a 300 plus year old statue still stand firmly. The giant log on which Buddha’s image has been engraved was brought all the way from Nepal with untiring efforts of 3 years. It is so gratifying to note that the world’s tallest wooden statue, also recorded in the Guinness book, came to China from Nepal remains as a monument of our historical ties.
Dimensions of Current Relations
- After the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 and the ushering in of democracy in Nepal in 1951, both countries showed interest to enter into formal diplomatic relations. A Chinese delegation led by China’s Ambassador to India Yuan Zhongxian visited Nepal and had a detailed discussion with the Nepali side for the establishment of diplomatic relations. An agreement formalizing diplomatic relations on the basis of Panchasheel, the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, was singed on 1 August 1955 in Kathmandu by Principal Royal Adviser Sardar Gunja Man Singh and Chinese Ambassador Yuan Zhongxian on behalf of respective governments. China is the 5th country with which Nepal had established diplomatic relations whereas for China, Nepal was the 22nd. Ambassador Yuan was concurrently appointed Ambassador to Nepal and Nepal also appointed its Ambassador to India, Lt. Gen. Daman Shumsher Jung Bahadur Rana concurrently as its first Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China.
Since the establishment of diplomatic relations, Nepal and China have maintained strong and cordial bilateral relations across wide ranging areas of cooperation. These relations have been marked by friendliness, mutual support and understanding and appreciation of each other’s aspirations and sensitivities. Both the countries are abiding by the ideals of the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence.
- The People’s Republic of China opened its residential Embassy in Kathmandu in July 1960 and Nepal opened its residential Embassy in Beijing in September 1961. The first residential Ambassadors were respectively Zhang Shijie and Kaiser Bahadur K.C.
- Nepal and China share a long border, spanning a range of 1414 Kilometers. Our two Governments resolved border issue amicably in 1961 in the fundamental interest of the two countries and peoples. Notwithstanding the high and mighty Himalayas that separate (or connect) our two countries, we have overcome all geographical difficulties in further consolidating our age-old ties of friendship and co-operation.
- Nepal-China relations are described as a model of good neighbourliness between a small and a large country with different political systems. Nepal has been firmly committed to the One-China Policy and considers Taiwan as integral part of China. Nepal has never allowed its territory to be used against China. China on the other hand, has always treated Nepal as an equal and friendly partner respecting its sovereignty, territorial integrity and national independence.
- Nepal is the only country that has been privileged to maintained a Consulate General in Lhasa, the capital of the Tibetan Autonomous Region. There is a large presence of people of Nepali origin in Tibet living in harmony with the locals pursuing different vocations. Nepal also maintains Consulate General in Hong Kong, Guangzhou and Chengdu. Kathmandu is connected by direct air links from Lhasa, Chengdu, Kunming, Guangzhou and Hong Kong.
- Nepal had taken a leading role in sponsoring China’s admission to the United Nations and all other international agencies. In the UN human rights body sessions, Nepal has consistently voted in favor of China. China has deeply appreciated Nepal’s stand in this respect.
- Exchange of bilateral visits immensely contributed to further nurturing Nepal-China bilateral relations and promoting the understanding between the two countries. The following are some of the important exchanges of visits though there have been several other visits at different levels from various walks of life:
Former Prime Minister Mr.Tanka Prasad Acharya in 1956
Former Prime Minister Mr. Bishweshwar Prasad Koirala in 1960
King Mahendra in 1961
Former Prime Minister Mr. Kirtinidhi Bista in 1972, 1978
King Birendra in 1973, 1982, 1987, 1993, 1996, 2001
Prime Minister Mr. Girija Prasad Koirala in 1992, 1993
Former Prime Minister Mr. Manmohan Adhikari 1995
Former Prime Minister Mr. Sher Bahadur Deuba in 1996
Former King Gyanendra in 2002, 2005
Prime Minister Mr. Pushpa Kamal Dahal “Prachand” in 2008 and 2017
Former Prime Minister Mr. Madhav Kumar Nepal in 2009
Former Prime Minister Mr. Sushil Koirala in 2014
Former President Dr. Ram Baran Yadav in 2010 and 2015
Former Prime Minister Mr. K.P. Oli in 2016 and 2018
Former Vice President Mr. Parmananda Jha in 2013 and 2015
Rt. Hon’ble Vice President Mr. Nanda Bahadur Pun in 2016, 2017 and 2018
Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara in 2016, 2017 and 2018
Prime Minister Mr. Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’ in 2017
Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Pradeep Kumar Gyawali in 2018
Rt. Hon. President Mrs. Bidya Devi Bhandari in 2019
Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr. Narayan Khadka in August 2022
Premier Mr. Zhou Enlai in 1957 and 1960
Mr. Deng Xiaoping in 1978 (in his capacity as Vice Premier)
Premier Mr. Zhou Ziyang in 1981
President Mr. Li Xiannian in 1984
Premier Mr. Li Peng in 1989
President Mr. Jiang Zemin in 1996
Premier Mr. Zhu Rongji in 2001
Premier Mr. Wen Jiabao in January 2012.
State Councilor Mr. Yang Jiechi in June 2013
Foreign Minister Mr. Wang Yi in December 2014 and in June 2015
Vice Premier Mr. Wang Yang in August 2017
State Councilor and Defense Minister General Chang Wanquan in March 2017
Minister for Culture and Tourism Mr. Luo Shugang in November 2018
State Councilor and Foreign Minister. Mr. Wang Yi in September 2019
President Xi Jinping in October 2019
Governor of the Yunnan Province Mr. Ruan Chengfa in November 2019
State Councilor and Minister of National Defense Gen. Wei Fenghe in November 2020
State Councilor and Foreign Minister Mr. Wang Yi in March 2022
Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress Mr. Li Zhanshu in September 2022
Economic Cooperation and Assistance
- Nepal-China economic cooperation dates back to the formalization of bilateral relations in 1950’s. The first “Agreement between China and Nepal on Economic Aid” was signed in October 1956. From the mid-80s, the Chinese Government has been pledging grant assistance to the Government of Nepal under the Economic and Technical Cooperation Program in order to implement mutually acceptable development projects.
- Chinese assistance to Nepal falls into three categories: Grants (aid gratis), interest free loans and concessional loans. The Chinese financial and technical assistance to Nepal has greatly contributed to Nepal’s development efforts in the areas of infrastructure building, industrialization process, human resources development, health, education, water resources, sports and the like.
- The Chinese financial and technical assistance to Nepal has greatly contributed to Nepal’s development efforts especially in the areas of infrastructure building, establishment of industries, human resource development, health, education, water resources, sports etc. The Chinese Government announced 3 billion RMB for 2016-2018 to be utilized in jointly selected reconstruction projects in Nepal. During Rt. Hon. President’s visit to China in April 2019, China pledged to provide 1 billion RMB to the Government of Nepal, and to this end, an Agreement on Economic and Technical Cooperation was signed between the two sides.
- Likewise, during the visit of Chinese President H.E. Xi Jinping on 12-13 October 2019, China has announced to extend a 3.5 billion RMB grant to Nepal for the period of 2020-2022.
- Arniko Highway Long–Term Opening Maintenance Project in Nepal, Phase III
- Repair and Reinforcement Project for the existing China-aided Projects in Nepal (4 Projects)
- Kathmandu Durbar High School (Bhanu Secondary School) Reconstruction project
- Earthquake Monitoring Network Project
- Provision of Medical Equipment
- Medical training
- Post–Disaster recovery for Tatopani Frontier Inspection Station Project
- The Amended Project for Kathmandu Ring Road Improvement Project (Phase I)
- International Sports Centre Reconstruction Project (Satdobato)
- Cross Border Bridge in Tatopani
- Cross Border Bridge in Rasuwagadi
- Kathmandu Ring Road Improvement Project (Phase I)
- Upper Trishuli 3A Hydropower Project (power station and Transmission Line Projects (concessional loan $114.7 million-EXIM bank)
- Installation of Solar Energy in Singha Durbar (Grant-completed)
Some ongoing projects under Chinese Assistance are as follows:
- Syaphrubesi-Rasuwagadi Highway Repair and improvement Project
- Nepal-China Cross-border Railway (Jilong-Kathmandu) Project
- Nine–storeyed Basantapur Tower Restoration Project at Durbar Square of Kathmandu
- Capacity Building in Disaster Prevention and Control ( Disaster Rescue Centers )
- Kathmandu Ring Road Improvement Project (Phase II)
- Upgrading and Renovation Project of Civil Service Hospital of Nepal
- The public-School Recovery Project in Sindhupalchok
- The Hospital Recovery Project in Sindhupalchok
- The Public School Recovery Project in Rasuwa
- The Public School Recovery Project in Dolakha
- The Hospital Recovery Project in Manang
- Repair Project for Nuwakot Durbar Square (Phase I)
- Dasarath Rangasala Reconstruction Project
- Renovation of International Convention Centre Project
- Bir Hospital Extension Project in Duwakot
- Tokha-Chhahare and Mailung-Syabrubesi Tunnel
- Xiarwa River Bridge
- Ratmate-Rasuwagadhi-Kerung 400 KV Transmission Line Project
- Narayanghat-Butwal Road
- Timure Frontier Inspection Station Projet (Grant)
- Pokhara International Regional Airport (Loan and Grant)
Cooperation under Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)
- With the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative on 12 May 2017 in Kathmandu between Nepal and China, new avenues for bilateral cooperation in the mutually agreed areas are expected to open. The major thrust of the MoU is to promote mutually beneficial cooperation between Nepal and China in various fields such as economy, environment, technology and culture. The MoU aims at promoting cooperation on policy exchanges, infrastructure connectivity, trade connectivity, financial integration and connectivity of people.
- The Government of the People’s Republic of China provided substantial and spontaneous support in the search, relief and rescue efforts of Nepal following the devastating earthquakes of 2015. China provided 3 billion Yuan on Nepal’s reconstruction to be used in the mutually selected 25 major projects for the period of 2016-2018. The two countries signed three separate bilateral Agreements on Economic and Technical Cooperation on 23 December 2016, 15 August 2017 and 21 June 2018 for providing Chinese grant of one billion Yuan each to Nepal for implementing post-disaster reconstruction projects, livelihood projects and other mutually agreed projects. Both countries have been working for the BRI Implementation Plan
- During the State Visit to China in in April/May 2019, The Rt. Hon. President Mrs. Bidya Devi Bhandari attended the Opening Ceremony of the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, and also participated in the Leaders’ Roundtable. Nepal-China Trans-Himalayan Multi-Dimensional Connectivity Network, including Nepal-China Cross-Border Railway, were incorporated in the Joint Communiqué of the Leaders’ Roundtable of the Second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation.
- Both Nepal and China have agreed to exchange ideas and proposals on constructing cross-border railways and railways network in Nepal, and support enterprises to start related preparatory work as soon as possible through the Joint Statement issued on 23 March 2017.
Trade, Tourism and Investment:
- There are six border points officially opened for trade between Nepal and China namely,
- i) Kodari-Nyalam ii) Rasuwa-Keyrung iii) Yari (Humla)-Purang iv) Olangchunggola-Riwu
- v) Kimathanka- Riwu vi) Nechung (Mustang)-Lizi
Out of the six border points, only two border points (Kodari-Nyalam and Rasuwa-Keyrung) are in operation.
- China remained Nepal’s second-largest trade partner, with a total bilateral trade volume of NRs 183.09 billion over Fiscal Year 2076/77. This is 14.14% of Nepal’s total trade volume with foreign countries. China was the second-largest source country for Nepal’s total imports and the sixth-largest export market.
- Ten major products that Nepal imports are:
- i) Telephones for cellular networks ii) Laptop and Notebook iii) Vaccines for human medicines iv) Urea v) Dyed kinetid vi) Apple vii) Router viii) Parts of telephone, cell phone ix) Footwear x) Electric Car.
Similarly, the top ten major products exported to China are:
- i) Carpets and Textile ii) Other plants or parts iii) Paintings, drawings and pastels executed iv) Other statuettes v) Musical instruments vi) Shawls vii) Scarves viii) Leather of bovine viii) Women’s dresses of cotton ix) Statuettes plated with precious metal x) Other ornaments.
- Nepal regularly participates in various trade fairs and exhibitions organized in China including in China International Import Expo (CIIE) held in Shanghai in November every year, COIFAIR, Nepal-China’s Tibet Economic and Trade Fair is the regular biannual event hosted by either side alternatively to enhance business interaction and promote economic cooperation between Nepal and TAR, China.
- Nepal-China Non-Governmental Cooperation Forum was established in 1996 which is led by the President of the Federation of the Nepali Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) from the Nepali side and the Vice Head of the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce (ACFIC) from the Chinese side. It is an initiative to mobilize the apex business organization of both sides to enhance cooperation between the private sectors of the two sides. The 14th meeting of the Forum was held in Kathmandu on 25-26 May 2017.
- China is the largest FDI source country for the last few years in terms of commitment amount and the second largest in the amount invested, with Chinese investment in about 1923 projects worth 197,521.82 million Nepali rupees creating more than 88 thousand job opportunities as reported by the Department of Industry.
- Nepal is one of the most attractive destinations for Chinese nationals which makes China to be the 2nd largest source of foreign tourists for Nepal. During the year 2019, 169,543 Chinese tourists visited Nepal. The Government of Nepal has waived visa fees for the Chinese nationals for up to 90 days in a year effective from 1 January 2016. Nepal has already made the Chinese Yuan convertible for tourists and businesspersons.
- Nepal has direct air link with Lhasa, Chengdu, Kunming, Guangzhou and Hong Kong SAR of China.
Education and Cultural Cooperation:
- China provides scholarships every year not exceeding a total of 100 Nepalese students studying in China. Besides, the Chinese side has been providing Chinese language training for 200 tourism entrepreneurs (40 per year) of Nepal for five years as per the understanding reached between two sides in March 2016. So far, China has offered 67 Scholarships for the academic year 2022-23.
- Both sides have been carrying out activities in culture and youth sectors as per the provisions of the MoU on Cultural Cooperation-1999 and MoU on Youth Exchange-2009. Both sides have been promoting people-to-people relations through regular hosting of cultural festivals, friendly visits of the peoples of different walks of public life, exhibition, cultural and film show, food festivals etc. Sister city relations between the cities of two countries are growing. These relations are basically meant for carrying out exchanges and cooperation in the fields of economy, trade, transportation, science and technology, culture, tourism, education, sports and health, personnel, etc.
Regional and International Affairs:
- Nepal is the founding member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and has actively enhancing its engagement with the bank for its socio-economic development. Likewise, Nepal holds the status of Dialogue Partner in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Both countries are also members of the Asia Cooperation Dialogue. Both countries cooperate each other in various UN forums and in other international organizations on matters of common concern.
Embassy of Nepal