China has proposed a new ambassador to Kathmandu after the incumbent is set to return prematurely possibly next month.
According to diplomatic sources, Beijing has proposed Hou Yanqi, currently the deputy director general at the Chinese Foreign Ministry, as its 21st ambassador to Nepal. The decision is said to have been communicated to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. After Kathmandu’s green signal, Chinese President Xi Jinping will announce her nomination.
Ambassador Yu Hong took up her assignment in November 2016 and served two years in Kathmandu. During her tenure, Nepal signed an agreement on the Belt and Road Initiative with China while some high-level visits took place from both sides. According to sources, the sitting ambassador has been promoted to joint-secretary. The proposed candidate, Hou is well known among Nepali politicians and officials.
Hou is the focal person for South Asian affairs in the Asia department of Chinese ministry. She is familiar with Nepal’s affairs and Beijing’s engagement in Kathmandu, said sources.
While Foreign Ministry officials refused to comment, Foreign Minister Pardeep Gyawali, ahead of his visit to Japan, had a discussion with the Chinese side on the developments. Having joined the Chinese foreign service in 1996, Hou is in her early 50s and has served in Pakistan and China’s Consulate General Office in Los Angles. She is a Peking University graduate with Urdu major.