Hight-level Chinese delegation calls on Nepal President

High-level Chinese delegation calls on Nepal President amidst political crisis

A high-level Chinese delegation led by a vice minister of the Communist Party of China on Sunday called on Nepal President Bidya Devi Bhandari ahead of meeting other top leaders to patch up differences between the two warring factions of the ruling Nepal Communist Party, a week after the surprise dissolution of Parliament and subsequent political turmoil.

Vice Minister of the International Department of the CPC Guo Yezhou, who arrived here on Sunday morning in what is believed to be China’s desperate attempt to avert a vertical split in the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP), met President Bhandari at the Rashtrapati Bhawan.

They discussed matters relating to further strengthening centuries-old bilateral relations, said an official at the President’s office.

Guo, who personally knows all senior NCP leaders, is scheduled to meet Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli on Monday, according to sources.

He will also hold meetings with senior political leaders including NCP’s executive chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal ‘Prachanda”, senior leader Madhav Kumar Nepal, who has replaced Oli as chairman of the Prachanda-led faction of the party, and chairman of Janata Samajwadi Party Baburam Bhattarai, according to sources.

The Chinese embassy here and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are tight-lipped about Guo's visit.

His visit is aimed at “taking stock of Nepal's evolving political situation after the dissolution of the House of Representatives and subsequent split in the ruling NCP amid already-deepened intra-party rift", My Republica newspaper reported.

China is not happy with the split in the largest communist party of Nepal, according to sources.

Guo will make efforts to patch up differences between the two warring factions of the ruling party - one led by Oli and the other led by Prachanda - during his four day stay in Nepal, according to the Kathmandu Post.

Earlier, Gou travelled to Kathmandu in February 2018 when Oli-led CPN-UML and Prachanda-led NCP (Maoist Centre) - were all set to merge and form a unified communist party following victory of their alliance in the 2017 general elections. Later in May, 2018, the two communist parties merged and formed a new party named Nepal Communist Party, the paper said.

Guo will assess the situation inside the ruling party and will encourage both factions of the NCP to seek some kind of common ground for party unity, the Post said, quoting party leaders. He will communicate the message of Chinese leadership, including that of President Xi Jinping’s, to the NCP leadership, a ruling party leader said.

“Besides this, the Chinese side has not communicated to us anything about the visit,” the leader told the Post on condition of anonymity.

"China has carefully chosen and sent Gou at a time when unity inside our party is shaken," a Standing Committee member of the NCP said.

Guo was received by Chinese Ambassador to Nepal Hou Yanqui at Tribhuvan International Airport.

No one from Nepali side was present to welcome the Chinese delegation that came in a scheduled flight from Beijing, The Kathmandu Post quoted sources at the airport as saying.

“Even we could not even recognise them because they were wearing personal protective equipment,” the source told the paper.

Nepal plunged into a political crisis last Sunday after Prime Minister Oli, known for his pro-Beijing leanings, in a surprise move, recommended dissolving the 275-member House, amidst a tussle for power with Prachanda.

Acting on the prime minister's recommendation, President Bhandari dissolved the House the same day and announced fresh elections on April 30 and May 10, sparking protests from a large section of the NCP led by Prachanda, also a co-chair of the ruling party.

Oli-led Cabinet on Friday recommended the President to convene the winter session of the National Assembly.

This is not the first time that China has intervened in Nepal's internal affairs.

In May and July, Hou held separate meetings with the president, the prime minister and other senior NCP leaders, including Prachanda, when Oli was facing mounting pressure to step down.

A number of political party leaders had termed the Chinese envoy’s series of meetings with the ruling party leaders as interference in Nepal’s internal political affairs.

China's political profile in Nepal has been on the rise in the recent years with billions of dollars of investments under its multi-billion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative, including the Trans-Himalayan Multi-Dimensional Connectivity Network.

Besides the investments, China's ambassador to Nepal Hou has made open efforts to garner support for Oli.

The CPC and NCP were regularly engaged in training programmes. In September last year, the NCP had even organised a symposium, inviting some CPC leaders to Kathmandu to impart training to Nepali leaders on the Xi Jinping thought ahead of the visit of the Chinese president, his first to Nepal, according to a Kathmandu Post report.

In a guarded reaction to the fast-paced political developments in Nepal,

India on Thursday said it was an "internal matter" of the neighbouring nation and it was for the country to decide as per its democratic processes.

Meanwhile, President Bhandari has called the winter session of the National Assembly, the upper house of Parliament, from January 1.

Assistant Spokesperson to the President’s office Keshav Prasad Ghimire, in a statement on Sunday, said the President has called for the National Assembly session at 4 PM on January 1.

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