KATHMANDU: Chinese defence minister Gen. Wei Fenghe will visit Nepal on Sunday and meet the country’s top leadership, the foreign ministry here announced on Saturday.
During his one-day working visit, Wei, also a state councillor, will pay a courtesy call on President Bidhya Devi Bhandari and Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli.
“The Chinese defence minister will also meet Chief of Army Staff General of Nepal Army Purna Chandra Thapa. Wei will return to Beijing the same evening wrapping up his brief visit,” the ministry said in a statement.
The ministry’s announcement comes a day after India’s foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla wrapped up his maiden twoday visit to Nepal.
Wei’s visit also comes amidst an ongoing political rift in the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) that resurfaced following a meeting between Prime Minister Oli and his rival Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda’.
China’s political profile in Nepal has been on the rise in the recent years with billions of dollars of investments under Beijing’s multi-billion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), including the building of the Trans-Himalayan Multi-Dimensional Connectivity Network.
Besides the investments, China’s ambassador to Nepal Hou Yanqi has made open efforts to garner support for Oli, who faced a massive rebellion in his party headed by ‘Prachanda’.
In August this year, Chinese President Xi Jinping said that he attached great importance to the development of China-Nepal relations and was willing to work with his Nepali counterpart Bhandari to push for the continued advancement of the bilateral relationship.
During his two-day state visit – the first by a Chinese leader in 23 years- in October last year, President Xi said China will provide Nepalese Rs 56 billion assistance to Kathmandu over the next two years to help Nepal’s development programmes and transform the landlocked nation into a land-linked country.