Chinese Speaker Li Zhanshu arriving on September 12

At the invitation of Speaker Agni Prasad Sapkota, Li Zhanshu, chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of China, the Chinese Speaker, is arriving on a three-day official visit to Kathmandu on September 12, multiple sources said.

Li, who is Chinese President Xi Jinping’s close ally, is a No. 3 member of the Politburo Standing Committee of Chinese Communist Party, the top decision making body of China, after President Xi and Premier Li Keqiang.

The visit is taking place just ahead of the 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party in October that is likely to give another term extension to Chinese President Xi and general and provincial elections in Nepal on November 20.

The Chinese leadership has been encouraging the Nepali communist leaders, particularly CPN-UML and CPN (Maoist Centre), for forging an alliance for the elections.

On July 14, Speaker Agni Prasad Sapkota had sent an official invitation to Li via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“On behalf of the House of Representatives, Federal Parliament of Nepal and my own, I have the honour to invite your excellency to pay a goodwill visit to Nepal,” reads the invitation by Sapkota, which is seen by the Post. “I fondly recall my fruitful virtual meeting with your excellency on April 8, 2022 that covered important aspects of bilateral trade, investment, tourism, and issues of bilateral relations between our two countries.”

“I want to take this opportunity to recall my previous invitation to your excellency for visiting Nepal during our virtual meeting,” added Sapkota in the letter sent to Li.

This will be the third highest visit from the north in the last one year after the formation of Sher Bahadur Deuba’s government in Kathmandu.

In March, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, who is also the State Councilor of China, visited Kathmandu and discussed a wide range of bilateral issues with the top political leadership.

Then in July, Foreign Department Chief of the Communist Party of China (CPC), Liu Jianchao, arrived in Kathmandu and held talks with all major political stakeholders including communist party leaders.

In August, Foreign Minister Narayan Khadka visited Qingdao, China, and met with his counterpart, Wang and discussed a wide range of bilateral issues including recent friction between China and the US over the Taiwan Strait.

During his stay in Kathmandu, Li will pay courtesy calls on President Bidya Devi Bhandari, Prime Minister Deuba and Speaker Sapkota, among others, and discuss bilateral political and other issues, said diplomatic sources.

Some senior officials of the CPC will accompany Li in his three-day stay.

In his letter, Sapkota also recalled the friendly relations between Nepal and China and expected that high-level visits from the People’s Republic of China will further strengthen the relationship of both parliamentarians and the two states.

Sewa Lamsal, Foreign Ministry spokesperson, said that high-level visits from neighbors and friendly nations are always welcome and preparations and other logistics about Li’s visit to Kathmandu are underway.

Both sides are planning to announce the visit early next week.

After the letter was sent from the House of Representatives to the Ministry of Foreign Ministry, the latter immediately enclosed a letter to the Chinese embassy in Kathmandu stating that the ministry would highly appreciate if the esteemed embassy could kindly transmit the message to the highest destination at the earliest convenience.

“We have heard that Li is visiting Nepal on September 12 but we are not aware of the details of his visit,” Bishnu Pukar Shrestha, Nepali ambassador to China, told the Post over the phone from Beijing.

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