How China helped during the earthquake and afterward: Hou Yanqi
Today (April 25) marks fifth anniversary 2015 earthquake in Nepal and the memories on it are still fresh for me. Back then, I was working in the Department of Asian Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China.
On the very day, when my colleagues and I heard that an 8.1-magnitude earthquake hit Nepal, we got on the rescue work with no hesitation. We worked around the clock with only one idea in our minds: Race against time to send the most-needed personnel and resources to the Nepali people as soon as possible to save lives and to fight against the disaster to reconstruct the homeland.
With our efforts, China International Search and Rescue Team, the first heavy-duty international rescue team, arrived in Kathmandu on the next day and successfully rescued two survivors. Three batches of emergency humanitarian supplies with a total value of 140 million RMB yuan also arrived in Nepal by air very soon.
Despite the roads and houses in Nyalam, Jilong and other counties in the Xizang Autonomous Region being damaged by the earthquake, the Chinese side sent the Transportation Corps of the Chinese People’s Armed Police who risked their lives and rushed to repair the Araniko Highway, the lifeline connecting China and Nepal, as quickly as possible and transported the oil, food, medicine and other materials to Nepal.
The Chinese people also volunteered to donate money and materials through the Nepali Embassy in China to Nepal. The Chinese enterprises and overseas citizens in Nepal participated in rescue operation and helped repair the roads and restore communications.
After the emergency rescue operations, the Nepali people started an arduous journey of post-earthquake reconstruction, in which the Chinese side has been taking an active part. Mr Wang Yi, then Foreign Minister and present State Councilor and Foreign Minister of the People’s Republic of China, attended the International Conference on Nepal’s Reconstruction 2015 on behalf of the Chinese government and announced that China would provide three billion RMB yuan in grant to Nepal from 2016 to 2018.
The two countries also signed a memorandum of understanding on 25 post-earthquake reconstruction projects in five major areas, namely infrastructure, people’s livelihood in mountain areas, archeological heritage renovation, disaster preparedness and health. With tenacious beliefs and perseverance, the people in Nepal and China have overcome the difficulties including the destruction of infrastructure and the "blockade" and promoted reconstruction in a steady and organized way.
At the end of 2018, I took the post of Chinese ambassador to Nepal. And since then I have been fortunate to have the opportunities to inspect those reconstruction projects aided by China with the leaders of Nepal for many times. It is delightful to see the completion of Kathmandu Ring Road project and I am honored to attend the handover ceremony of the project with Prime Minister Oli.
The beautiful nine-storeyed Basantapur Tower Restoration is about to be complete. The neat Kathmandu Durbar High School is ready to welcome students. The second phase of the Upgrading and Renovation Project of Civil Service Hospital, where a large number of wounded people were treated during the earthquake, is under construction. The Tatopani Frontier Inspection Station, the Cross Border Bridges in Tatopani (Friendship Bridge) and the Cross Border Bridges in Rasuwagadi (Rasu Bridge) have opened to traffic.
The projects for which we have worked together for day and night have all made progress, some are completed, and some are under construction. On the sites of these projects, I saw the workers of the two countries busy in construction, sweating to rebuild their homes and nourishing the China-Nepal friendship to bear fruits. The China-Nepal friendship tested by the earthquake is deep into the hearts of the peoples of the two countries and has become common precious asset for both countries.
The past five years have witnessed the significant progress in not only post-earthquake reconstruction and the mutual assistance between China and Nepal but also the rapid development of bilateral relations and cooperation in various fields.
Last year, President Xi Jinping and President Bhandari successfully exchanged state visits, and the two countries established Strategic Partnership of Cooperation Featuring Ever-lasting Friendship for Development and Prosperity. During President Xi Jinping's visit to Nepal, a package of grant projects to Nepal from 2020 to 2022 has been announced, and will continue to provide support and assistance to the post-earthquake reconstruction, economic, social and livelihood development of Nepal.
The post-earthquake reconstruction of Nepal is comprehensive and covers a variety of areas. China has taken active participation in the promotion on tourism industry of Nepal by expanding direct flights between the two countries and increasing the total number of weekly flights to nearly 60. China has become the second largest tourist source of Nepal. More and more Chinese people come to Nepal to experience the beauty of the snow-capped mountains and the charm of the Buddha's birthplace.
The Chinese enterprises have also actively participated in infrastructure construction such as highways, airports, water tunnels and etc through investment, contracts and other ways. They are fully involved in the reconstruction and development of Nepal in a comprehensive way and making contribution to the achievement of the goal of "Prosperous Nepal, Happy Nepalis."
On the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the earthquake, I would like to express my deep condolences to the victims, pay my high tribute to the persevering Nepali people dedicated to rebuild their homeland, and express my heartfelt thanks to all the engineering and technical staff of both countries who participated in the reconstruction.
At present, the COVID-19 pandemic is spreading all over the world. To fight against this common enemy of mankind, the Chinese people and the Nepali people have once again worked hand-in-hand and shoulder-to-shoulder and helped each other to fight against the pandemic in a joint way. A friend in need is a friend in deed and China-Nepal friendship will last from generation to generation. Let us move towards a better future under the guidance of the concept of building a community with a shared future for mankind.
By Hou Yanqi, Chinese Ambassador to Nepal, in Republica April 25, 2020