Nepal: Joining China's "One Belt, One Road"

Nepal Joins China’s “One Belt, One Road”

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(Nepal 2017 team member Lynn Li photographs the sacred lake Gosaikunda in Langtang National Park. )

The Nepal 2017 team, including six J-School students and professor John Noonan undertook a 15-day reporting trip, to explore the effects of Nepal joining China’s Belt and Road Initiative in May.

Before the trip in August, two students on the team were sent to ECS Media, a prominent English-language magazine company in Kathmandu, for a six-week internship. Together with another J-school student at ECS, who independently arranged an internship at the company, the three interns published 14 articles in ECS publications; two Chinese language articles were published on Changjiang Net, southcn.com and Beijing Time; and four articles and eight photo stories were published on Wechat public accounts.

During their internship, besides doing stories on Nepalese culture and lifestyle, the Nepal interns also focused on Chinese soft power influencing the Kathmandu Valley under the Belt and Road Initiative, by looking at the Chinese expatriate community there —Chinese restaurants, tourism companies, bookstores, NGOs, schools which have Chinese language courses, and the Confucius Institute.

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(A story in ECS Nepal Magazine written by Gao Xuan, one of the ECS interns on the Nepal trip.)

This year in early September, the larger reporting team, John Noonan, and program partner and renowned Nepalese journalist Binod Bhattarai joined the interns in Nepal to begin two weeks of intensive reporting on the Belt and Road Initiative. The team journeyed to remote Rasuwa district and the Rasuwagadhi-Jilong border, where China-Nepal’s only land crossing was recently opened to tourists as well as trade under the initiative. The Nepal Reporting Team visited numerous China-aided and China-Nepal joint projects which are underway in this border region, including hydropower projects and a dry port. The team also interviewed experts who worked and lived near the Chinese border on the Nepal side: a civil engineer and a geologist at Rasuwagadhi Hydropower Company Limited, the chairman of Rasuwa Truck Container Association, the Senior Environment and Public Relations Manager of the Rasuwagadhi Hydroelectric Project, and the Information Officer of Langtang National Park. Meanwhile, they interviewed local residents in the area – direct stakeholders of development –  including truck drivers, shop owners who sell Chinese products, village hotel owners, and school principals, among others.

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(STU students interviewing shop owner Indra Thapa Magar, who sells Chinese products in Timure.)

In order to gain a sense of how this development might impact the land and people of the region, the team trekked for eight days in Langtang National Park — one of Nepal’s premier wilderness destinations — which is immediately adjacent to all the development projects. In addition to exploring the expected benefits to the people living in the park — and the potential downsides for the natural environment — the team looked into everyday life in the high Himalaya ranging in altitude from 1340m to 4610m, biodiversity, and important cultural landmarks and customs among the local Tamang ethnicity, as they walked nearly 100 kilometers through Rasuwa, Nuwakot, and Sindhupalchowk districts.

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(STU student Katherina Tse doing a standup on the Nepalese-Chinese border.)

The team is currently producing more stories and short documentary video works, which will be presented at a “sharing session” at the Library Theater in mid- to late November. (Specific date TBD.) With special guest Binod Bhattarai.

By: Katherina Tse

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