Address by His Excellency Mr. Wu Chuntai, Ambassador of PR China, on China- Nepal Relations August 4, 2016
[Abstract of the address: Ambassador Wu Chuntai noted, in his speech before the trainees, that China gave top priority to its neighbours. He also said that China had helped Nepal in its difficult times like during the devastating damages caused by the Great Earthquake of April 2015. The Ambassador appreciated Nepal's policy of extending its support for China's territorial integrity and sovereignty as well as supporting the One-China Policy.]
His Excellency initiated his speech with the following remarks. China is a friend of Nepal. China wants to help Nepal and it has the capability to do so. In the past, countries such as Japan and the US had the capability to help Nepal but they did not do so. But China will do it.
China provided generous humanitarian aid to Nepal – in fact, it was one of the largest humanitarian operations in Chinese history. Officially, China provided the help RNM 3 billion and over 25 projects. China is thankful that Nepal supports Chinese territorial integrity and sovereignty and one-China policy.
We are friends in need and friends indeed. Developing countries like China, India and Nepal were invaded and colonized. Modern history is characterized by ‘winners’ and ‘losers’. China, India and Nepal are thus ‘losers’. How should Chinese foreign policy be conducted in such a case? Realist or idealist?
The British say – there are no friends or enemies and only interests. But that’s what they say and is their interests. China has gone on a new path – that of self-reliance using the five principles of peaceful coexistence.
Peace, development, and cooperation should be the banners of Chinese foreign policy. So China is a different voice in both international relations and in the field of economic development. China had a very difficult time after World War II. We had civil war, and revolts; it was a very bad situation. So, China, at that time, realized that we needed a different path. We should seek self-reliance. We needed modern systems to develop the country. So with the support of the former USSR, Nepal and India, embarked on the path of industry. Chinese Foreign Policy over the decades:
We wanted independence, and we did not want to build any alliances.
1950s: We had a difficult time with the USA, the superpower then. We fought with them in North Korea for four years until we reached an armistice. But we didn’t regard that as victory – we only wanted peace in our neighborhood. US also wanted to use Taiwan against us. We send military advisors and people to help people in South East Asia against the European colonizers like the French.
We had good relations with the then-USSR. Both Stalin and Khrushchev wanted to help us but also wanted to control us. So our alliance with the USSR broke up with in the 1950s after Khrushchev came to power.
1960s: Most difficult time, because USA and former USSR teamed up to try to contain China. Americans embargoed us. But at the time, national independence and sovereignty was utmost in our minds. At that time, we had established relations with many countries but we suffered embargoes. Then, war with the Soviet Union in late 1960s. Henry Kissinger, a young US diplomat realized that the US and China had to have an alliance to contain USSR. USSR invaded directly Czechoslovakia in 1968. In 1971, with Pakistani intermediation, Kissinger went to China and in 1972 Nixon went to China. Since then, US and China had established relations.
So, 1970s was a ‘golden age’ for Chinese diplomacy. But US wanted to use China as a proxy against USSR. But China did not want to do that. So we frankly told the US that we can join you in the international alliance to control the hegemony of the USSR and its allies – such as the invasion of Afghanistan and the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia, but we will not accept your hegemony.
In the 1980s, China was once again called to decide its own fate. In the 1980s, its economy was very weak and so we decided to open the Chinese economy and allow foreign capital into China. Our domestic policy changed and also our international relations. We established relations with all countries. Relations with India were somewhat suspended in 1962 but after 1985 they improved. Now, we have a strategic relationship.
Our relations with the United States are also now very unique. We are one of the two largest creditors of the US (together with Japan). What we want with the US is a kind of new partnership between the large powers – we can support you in your fight against terrorism but we cannot support government change and color revolutions in other parts of the world. For the first time, the Americans have a partner that is ‘up to’ their economic weight.
We don’t want to enter into an arms race with the United States like the former USSR did. We want weapons only for our own national defense.
Relations with neighboring countries
This is very important for us. Many of our neighbors have a long and historical relationship. Our relations with Nepal can be dated to millennia. Manjushree came from China’s Wutai Mountains and he came to Kathmandu according to some myths. Chinese Buddhist monks like Fa-Shien came here. Other figures like Bhrikuti and Arniko are important historical figures connecting the two countries.
Development in Inner Asia needed Europeans developed coastal areas (as in China) but they left the interior untouched. So there was no infrastructure in places like Central Asia. So places like Kazakhstan and Mongolia have no roads and there is no development there.
So, this is why we wanted to help our neighbors. Three years ago, our President Xi Jinping realized that this is the area that we should move in. We should therefore first help our neighbors. Many advanced countries now want to reduce their grants here in Inner Asia, but only China is increasing its grants and loans.
So, in order to do that (development in Inner Asia) we launched the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and One Belt, One Road (OBOR) projects. We wanted to invest not only in the US and Europe but also in Asia.
We want to ensure win-win in our neighborhood. Zero-sum theory will lead us nowhere. We should be greater together. This is the theoretical basis of Chinese foreign policy. No matter how big or rich we are, we want to share everything. China wants Nepal to benefit from the growing economy of China. We also want to adapt our foreign policy with Nepal’s priorities.
Interaction with Trainees
Question: How do you see the future of China-US relations, especially in the context of recent friction between China and some other countries in the South China Sea? Also, recently, the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague disputed China’s historic rights over certain islands in the South China Sea. How will China react to this ruling?
Answer: China and US are the largest economies in the world and both have nuclear weapons. But both China and US have very prudent politicians and they will deal with each other in a practical way. We can’t imagine that China and US will involve themselves in a global conflict in a global age. For the South China Sea, it has always been our position that we enter into bilateral relations with the Philippines or any other country. We have our own proof of our ownership of the islands.
We have our issues with the way that the Court reached its decision. We stand for the peaceful resolution of such solutions without using any foreign powers.
Question: Do China and India have regional competition?
Answer: There is US$ 45 billion shortage of funds for infrastructure building. One bank cannot cover everything. Only Chinese companies have experience in building some big dams. We have the Three Gorges Dams. Only Chinese companies have the capacity to undertake huge dams like 1200 MW projects.
Question: Can Nepal export surplus hydropower primarily to India, as the Indian Ambassador to Nepal recently said?
Answer: Yes, that’s true. North India suffers from heat waves and thus needs electricity. So the natural biggest market for Nepal’s hydropower is India. But Chinese companies have a lot of expertise in building very big hydro projects, even in India. So, why can’t we build big projects in Nepal? For the Chinese market, Nepalese hydropower may not be necessary because we in China already have overcapacity. So, it would be better to develop Nepalese hydropower mainly for the Indian market.