01/05/2015, 00.00
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Thanks to Nepal, new "Silk Road" to bring Chinese goods to Europe

by Christopher Sharma
Beijing and Kathmandu sign deal that includes the construction of a "corridor" to ship Chinese-made goods through Nepal territory. A new railway line linking the two countries and India is also in the works.

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - Nepal will become a "corridor" for Chinese goods destined for Eurasia thanks to an agreement signed with China. Both nations expect to benefit from the new "economic Silk Road".

According to experts, under the terms of the deal signed at the end of December 2014, China will be able to ship goods through the Himalayan nation, with Nepal earning transit fees.

For some analysts, the move has a geopolitical motive as well because it will enable Beijing (and Moscow) to bypass the United States' new Asia strategy by which Washington hopes to boost its influence in the area through bilateral agreements with Japan and India.

In Beijing, plans are also being drawn up to strengthen the country's railway system. The Chinese government wants in fact to extend the Qinghai-Tibet railway and link the two inland provinces to Nepal and South Asia.

At present, the train only links Lhasa to Shigatse, Tibet's second largest city, 253 kilometres from the Nepali border.

With Nepal's agreement, two new lines should be built: one to Rasuwagadhi, Nepal, and the other up to Yadong on the Indian-Bhutanese border.

For Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, a Beijing-Kathmandu-New Delhi trilateral development partnership would also serve as a confidence-building step.

"Nepal is uniquely located between two large neighbours," he said. "We want Nepal to develop good relations with both the countries," adding, "Nepal and India are also reinforcing their relations for mutual benefit and we encourage positive interaction."

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