Rudra Khadka (República) reports that all Nepalis now need a Chinese visa to visit Mount Kailash and Lake Mansarovar close to the Nepal border in Western Tibet. And, according to Nar Bahadur Bishta, acting chief of District Police Office of Humla, the provision also applies for border residents.
According to Norbu Lama, a local resident of Humla, the Chinese security personnel started seeking visa from Nepali pilgrims after Rimpochhe Chang Thang delivered a speech in Yalwang monastery in Muchu VDC of Humla district.
Locals say that the Chinese security personnel started seeking visas from Nepali pilgrims as Rimpochhe Thang raised free Tibet issue during his speech.
Bishta, however, also says that Chinese security personnel have not stopped Indian or other foreign tourists from visiting Kailash and Mansarovar. This is interesting because the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) has been closed for foreign tourists for the past three weeks (it opened again today) and there were reports about 700 – 800 Indian pilgrims stranded at the Chinese border in Tatopani, Nepal.
Ten days after the wave of Tibetan self-immolations reached Lhasa, Chinese authorities have closed the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) for foreign visitors until further notice. This also seems to apply to Indian pilgrims on their way to Mount Kailash. Hundreds are stuck at the border, according to IBN. Moreover, even Tibetans on their way back to Tibet are shut out, as Tendar Tsering reports for Phayul:
A group of nine Tibetans, five males and four females, from the Nagchu area of Tibet were detained at the Nepal-Tibet border by Chinese police late last month while returning back home. According to sources, the Tibetans were detained for nine days, beaten, and stripped off their travel permits issued by the local Chinese authorities and handed over to Nepali officials.
The Tibetans are currently being held by Nepali immigration officers in the capital Kathmandu and are most likely to be sent to India upon refurbishing a bail of US $ 37.5 each.
Closing Tibet for foreigners in times of heightened tension is, of course, a pattern we have seen several times over the past years. However, sending Tibetans with Chinese passports back to Nepal is a new development. The group was allegedly among the thousands of Tibetans who participated in the Kalachakra ritual in Bodhgaya (India) in January (sere here and here). Many of them were hassled on their way back to China. The group apparently delayed their return until the dust settled.
Between all the important topics that fill the front pages of Nepal’s press – questions of federalism and ethnicity, the upcoming deadline for the Constitutional Assembly to finally agree on a constitution – this little note by Bipin Chand Agarwal (The Times of India) caught my eyes.
Donkeys, mules cross border, find new destination in Nepal, China: The demand of donkeys and mules has gone up in Nepal and China. These animals are the good mode of transport even in the adverse weather on the hills of these countries, they are also being imported from Nepal for past one year, importers of Nepal are sending them to China.
Talking to Nepali traders the author learnt that about 90% of these mules were exported to China where the price for mules allegedly quadrupled.
Against the background of the fervent construction of roads in the Himalayas, the surge in demand for mules may seem strange. But the roads bring more goods and these goods still need to be carried across passes where the roads have not yet reached. In this sense, it may well be that more roads mean more mules – at least for the time being.
Posted in Border Review Also tagged road, Tibet, trade
Sita Niroula (Himalayan Times):
Loads of chiraito, a medicinal herb found in the Himalayan mountains, taken by locals of different remote areas in the district to export to Tibet for good income have been stored in Olanchungola as China administration has banned Nepalis to enter Tibet for a month fearing anti-China activities. Taplejung folk have been exporting chiraito to Tibet more than to Nepal and India for the past three years.
Olangchunggola, or Walongchung, is just a small village in eastern Nepal and the storage of some medicinal herbs for a couple of months there would not warrant a post, were it not for a few interesting details not mentioned in the article.
Walongchung was an important hub on a major trans-Himalayan trade route before the salt, grain and wool trade came to a halt in the 1960s. Each and every house has storerooms for salt and grain in the basement, and it is probably the first time in fifty years that these storage facilities are being used again. Also, chiraito — Swertia chirayita or tigta in Tibetan – is not just found in the mountains but actively cultivated in eastern Nepal. In fact, more than 5,000 farmers in the Taplejung area derive substantial cash incomes from the cultivation of this bitter herb, which is used in Ayurveda as well as Tibetan medicine. With the recent industrialisation of Tibetan medicine in China and the soaring demand for herbs, prices have gone up year by year. As a result, trade with Tibet has once again become an important part of the livelihood strategies in this region of Nepal.
Its official: last Wednesday, the China Three Gorges Corporation (CTGC) signed a memorandum of understanding with the Nepal government regarding the construction of the much-contested West Seti Hydro Electricity Project, eKantipur reports. GTGC gets a 75 percent stake in the 750 MW project; the Nepal Electricity Authority will hold 25 percent and CTGC has promised to help them obtain a Chinese bank loan to shoulder the investment.
There is no question that Nepal and especially the Kathmandu Valley lack electricity. However, West Seti is in far-western Nepal and the plan is to export most of the electricity to India. The dam has a long and complicated history. For sixteen years, the Australia-based multinational Snowy Mountain Engineering Corporation (SMEC) held a licence to develop the project. Chinese Banks as well as the Asian Development Bank (ADB) had agreed to provide loans. About 13,000 people would have to be resettled and the Maoists said in 2009 that they would not allow the operation of the dam. After Kathmandu-based NGO WAFED showed that the project violated several of ADB’s policies (reports here and here), the bank pulled out in 2010. Finally, in summer 2011, Snowy Mountain Engineering Corporation (SMEC) lost its licence.
Now, the Maoist-led government comes back to the plan and provides the China Three Gorges Corporation (CTGC) with a next gorge for their ambitions.
The Himalayan Times reports that the border crossing near Walongchung in Eeaster Nepal has been closed for the coming months.
The Chinese administration has banned Nepalis from entering Tibet from Taplejung border. Tashi Sherpa of Olangchungola said today that Chinese police had recently informed them not to come Tibet for four months. He also said that the reason behind the prohibition in the entry to Tibet has not been cited.
Locals of northern part of Taplejung suspect that China might have blocked the border for Nepalis as March 20 was the day when Dalai Lama had left Tibet and that there maybe some anti-Tibet activities aimed for the day. Nepal Police of Olangchungola said that they have not been formally informed about the closure of the border.
This is not the first time, when the Chinese government had imposed an embargo on Nepalis. Earlier, around this time the Nepalis have been informed not to enter Tibet for four months.
Let’s see if this is an isolated case of wether all of the remote border crossings are going to be shut down in anticipation of potential protests over the coming months.