By Zhao Yipu, People’s Daily
When meeting with People’s Daily reporter again in Kathmandu, capital of Nepal, Nepali President Bidya Devi Bhandari recognized the reporter immediately. “I remember you. You interviewed me in 2019 before Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Nepal. China is a good friend of Nepal, and I’m willing to answer the questions from People’s Daily,” Bhandari said.
In the subsequent interview that lasted more than two hours, Bhandari recalled her meetings and communication with Xi. The Nepali people are proud to have a good friend like China, and the Nepal-China friendship across the Himalayas is always as firm as a rock, she said.
China and Nepal have always stood alongside each other and supported each other in times of difficulties and challenges. Bhandari still vividly remembers her phone conversation with Xi in May 2021 when the COVID-19 situation in Nepal was grim.
“I told President Xi over the phone that Nepal faced a serious shortage of vaccine. Xi said China would provide much-needed medical supplies and vaccines for Nepal, share its experience in epidemic prevention and control as well as diagnosis of and treatment for the disease with Nepal, and continue trying its best to support Nepal. We talked for 45 minutes that time. President Xi showed his solicitude for the Nepali people just like an elder brother,” Bhandari told People’s Daily.
After the phone conversation, the Chinese government soon sent COVID-19 vaccines and medical supplies to Nepal. “The timely support and help from President Xi and the Chinese people saved the lives of many Nepali people,” Bhandari said.
The entire nation has been deeply moved by China’s selfless assistance, according to Bhandari, who said that with a good friend like China, “Nepal dares to face up to any difficulties.”
“President Xi is a sincere friend,” Bhandari stressed. She disclosed that she and Xi have met, talked over the phone, and exchanged letters for many times and maintained close contacts and a sincere friendship.
“Even the high mountains and language barrier can’t stop us from becoming friends,” Bhandari said.
During the interview, Bhandari recalled Xi’s state visit to Nepal in 2019. She and her daughter Usha Kiran Bhandari welcomed Xi at the airport when he arrived, according to the Nepali President.
“I remember that after President Xi walked down the gangway ladder, my daughter presented him with a bouquet of flowers and we welcomed him like he was family. Almost all the senior officials of Nepal went to the airport to greet President Xi,” Bhandari recalled, explaining that Xi’s visit was of great significance to Nepal, so the whole country took it very seriously.
“During that historic visit, President Xi and I jointly announced that China and Nepal had agreed to upgrade their relations to a strategic partnership of cooperation featuring ever-lasting friendship for development and prosperity,” Bhandari said.
The first and second volumes of the Nepali edition of Xi Jinping: The Governance of China are among the books on the bookshelf in Bhandari’s office. The book covers all aspects of the governance of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in China, said the Nepali President, who stressed that Xi has always put the people in the first place, adhered to the people-centered development philosophy and made great efforts to advance major undertakings, such as the fight against poverty, infrastructure construction, and ecological civilization construction, winning support and respect from the Chinese people.
The vision of building a community with a shared future for mankind and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) proposed by Xi have drawn a blueprint for global governance and development, Bhandari pointed out.
“President Xi is one of the most influential leaders in the world. Under his leadership, China has made remarkable achievements in various sectors and seen its global influence grow with each passing day,” Bhandari said.
She has visited China four times since 1995, and has been to southwest China’s Tibet autonomous region, and many Chinese cities including Beijing, Shenzhen, Shanghai and Xi’an, according to Bhandari.
She has seen through these visits that China has both modern metropolis and villages with picturesque natural scenery, Bhandari said, who noted that China has achieved more balanced, coordinated, and sustainable development under the strong leadership of the CPC.
“I have a lot of interesting stories about and happy memories of each of my visit to China. I can talk about my love for China for days, and still can’t fully express my deep feelings for the country,” she said.
The lofty Mount Qomolangma, which straddles the China-Nepal border, has witnessed the history of the friendly ties between the two countries.
During the past 67 years since the establishment of the diplomatic relations between China and Nepal, generation after generation of people committed to China-Nepal friendship have continuously scaled new heights in bilateral relations under the guidance of leaders of the two countries, finally making the China-Nepal relations flourish.
China and Nepal are close neighbors linked by the same mountains and rivers and enjoy a long-standing friendship, Bhandari pointed out, stressing that the mutual trust and friendship between the two countries have withstood the test of time.
Nepal is grateful to China for its long-term generous support and assistance, said Bhandari, who noted that Nepal will remain steadfast in upholding the one-China principle and supporting China in safeguarding its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and will definitely not allow any forces to carry out any activities against China on Nepali territory.
Nepal supports the joint construction of the BRI and looks forward to accelerating the construction of a Multi-dimensional Connectivity Network across the Himalayas with China, which is an opportunity to bring a new look to the infrastructure of Nepal, according to Bhandari.
“I hope we will continue working together to elevate the Nepal-China friendship to a new height,” she said.