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China halts Tibet-Nepal border trade, citing its lunar New Year holiday

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(TibetanReview.net, Jan22’23) – In a sign that Tibet has become more Chinese and less Tibetan under President Xi Jinping’s more outright, ongoing Sinicization drive, China has halted trade with Nepal through the Rasuwagadhi-Kerung route till Feb 3, citing its Lunar New Year holiday which began on Jan 22. The Tibetan New Year is a month away, as it falls on Feb 21. The decision has caused disappointment on the Nepali side as China allowed it only limited exports even during the short reopening period.

Trading of goods through the land route has once again come to a halt in less than a month after China eased restrictions at the border point after three years, reported myrepublica.nagariknetwork.com Jan 21.

The report noted that on Dec 28, China announced the reopening of the border for two-way trade through Rasuwagadhi (in Nepal)-Kerung (or Kyirong in Tibet) checkpoint effective from Jan 8 as the country announced the lifting of its Covid-19 curbs across the nation by downgrading the virus to a less-severe category.

“Prior to this, the northern neighbor had been allowing partial movement of goods for three years, under the pretext of spread of the pandemic,” the report said.

The report further said: “Showing various pretexts, China time and again has been obstructing bilateral trade via the land routes. Since the 2015 earthquake, Nepal’s export through the Tatopani-Khasa border has come to a standstill. Prior to the earthquake, the trade volume through this land route used to be more than Rs 150 billion annually.”

Nepal shares border with Chinese ruled Tibet in a stretch of 1,414 kilometres along the Himalayan range. China has promised big, having officially announced the opening of six border points for bilateral trade via land routes. These include Kodari-Nyalam (Tatopani-Khasa), Rasuwa-Kerung, Yari (Humla)-Purang, Olangchunggola-Riwu, Kimathanka- Riwu and Nechung (Mustang)-Lizi checkpoints.

However, till date, only two trade routes, namely Rasuwagadhi and Tatopani, have been opened for commercial trading. Still, the Chinese authorities shut these points indefinitely on various pretexts time and again, the report bemoaned.

And even during the short period of the recent reopening of the Rasuwagadhi-Kerung route, the Chinese authorities continued to impose certain restrictions on the export of Nepali goods, said the theannapurnaexpress.com Jan 20.

“Imports of Nepali goods into China are allowed once in 15 days,” an official at Nepal’s Department of Customs has said, wishing not to be named. “Only 10 trucks of Nepali goods are allowed to pass through the border point to China at a time. It means Nepal can export only 20 trucks of goods in a month.”

The report said Nepali officials were unaware why China had continued to impose restrictions on shipments and import of food items from Nepal.

“The closure of borders has cost dearly to Nepal’s exports to China as the majority of such exports take place through land routes,” Purusottam Ojha, Nepal’s former Secretary of Commerce, has told Annapurna Express in early January.

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