Indian Media Ring Economic Alarm Bells Over Launching of China-Nepal Transport Corridor



(Yicai Global) Dec. 13 -- The successful delivery of the first shipment of CNY19 million (USD2.75 million) worth of Chinese goods to Kathmandu, capital of Nepal, by land last week and China’s statement that the 6,070 km transport corridor will link mainland China and South Asian countries more closely have resonated with the Indian media.

The Times of India, the third-largest newspaper in India by circulation, commented that the opening of the Sino-Nepalese railway "will be a serious blow to Indian enterprises who enjoyed unimpeded access to the Nepalese market over the past decades."

The first freight train connecting China’s southeastern city Guangzhou, inland province Tibet and Central and South Asia arrived at the Gyirong port on the Sino-Nepalese border and went through customs on Dec. 9, officially launching the Guangdong-Tibet-Nepal road and rail transport channel, China’s official Xinhua news agency reported.

"The land transport from Guangzhou to Gyirong port takes five to six days, 20 days faster than the sea route,” said Yao Yanfeng, general manager of Tibet Tianzhi Import and Export Trading Co. He expects two to three-fold increase in the trading volume through the new transport corridor during next year's peak season.

Since the beginning of this year, China has been actively encouraging Kathmandu to reduce dependence on India's energy and telecommunications products and services, claimed the Times of India. A week ago, Nepal and China signed a container transport and exchange agreement. Last month, Nepal Telecom reached a deal on the use of China Telecom products and facilities.

The paper said that the opening of the railway "courier" "will encourage Nepal to accept China's proposed Sino-Nepalese rail and road link." In March last year, the then Nepalese Prime Minister, Khadga Prasad Oli, visited China and signed a railway agreement to link the two countries, but the project was temporarily shelved because of the political turmoil in Nepal. Nepal's current Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal also encourages the move, hoping to persuade the Chinese leaders to visit Nepal, which would enhance his image, The Times of India quoted a senior researcher with the India-based Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies as saying.

According to the Deccan Chronicle, the largest English-language newspaper in southern India, the high costs of 6,000 km transportation would push up the price of goods, but observers say Chinese authorities are subsidizing some companies to compete in the Nepalese market with products from India. The opening of this cargo channel "will cause a serious blow to Indian companies," it claims.

China is opening up the "South Asia Grand Channel", which is a strategic project for the full opening of Tibet through an organic integration of transport channels, ports, cities and industries, Xinhua reported. The route will rely on Tibet’s cities and ports that have close ties with Nepal, India, Myanmar, Bhutan and other neighboring countries to connect China’s mainland economic zones and form a grand economic exchange channel.