KATHMANDU – Chinese Defense Minister General Wei Fenghe is making a one-day visit to Nepal next week. According to a high-level source at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), Chinese Defense Minister Fenghe is scheduled to arrive in Kathmandu on November 29 (next Sunday).
He is going to Bangladesh and Pakistan after visiting Nepal. Though there were speculations about the Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s visit to Nepal, China decided to send its Defense Minister to Nepal.
Chinese Defense Minister Fenghe is arriving in Nepal to attend the special occasion of the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu to commemorate the 65th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between Nepal and the People’s Republic of China.
Earlier on Tuesday, Chinese Ambassador Hou Yanqi had met Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli and discussed the Defense Minister Fenghe’s visit to Nepal.
Though some had interpreted the visit as an initiative to ‘facilitate’ a truce between the two rival factions of the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) amid widening intra-party rift, the Prime Minister and the Chinese Ambassador had actually discussed the Chinese Defense Minister’s visit, according to the source.
Deputy Prime Minister Ishwor Pokharel had visited China in October last year when he was the Defense Minister. Deputy Prime Minister Pokharel is said to have a good rapport with Chinese Defense Minister Fenghe. During his China visit, the two countries had signed an agreement to provide military support worth Rs 2.5 billion to the Nepal Army.
Chief of the Army Staff in the Nepal Army Purna Chandra Thapa had also visited China in July. The visit of Chinese Defense Minister next week is a part of high-level exchanges between China and Nepal, according to the MoFA sources. Deputy Prime Minister and the then Defense Minister Pokharel had extended an invitation for the Nepal visit to his Chinese counterpart during his China trip last year.
This will be the highest level visit from China after Chinese President Xi Jinping came to Nepal in October last year. Defense Minister Fenghe, who is also a State Councillor, is the highest serving official in China to visit Nepal after the Chinese President Jinping. He is also considered to be a close confidante of the Chinese President.
The high-level visit from China comes in the wake of recent string of senior Indian officials arriving in Nepal or planned arrivals. Chinese concern in Nepal is also growing in Nepal as India and the US increase their strategic cooperation in South Asia. According to the MoFA source, the Chinese Defense Minister will discuss security cooperation along with other bilateral issues during his Nepal visit.
Chinese Defense Minister will pay a courtesy call on President Bidya Devi Bhandari and Prime Minister Oli as well as hold talks with Deputy Prime Minister Pokharel, according to sources.