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Nepal protests against China for blocking goods movement despite year-old transit deal

(TibetanReview.net, Jan31’21) – Nepali businessmen have launched a protest Jan 29 in the country’s Rasuwa District against China’s ‘undeclared blockade’ of cross-border trade in violation of an agreement signed more than a year ago, reported the ANI Jan 30, citing Nepal’s Khabarhub news portal.

Carrying placards with messages as such ‘Ensure smooth movement of containers’, ‘ensure the safety of Nepalis living at the border’, ‘abide by international trade laws’, ‘abide by trade and transit agreements’, take initiative for easy trade with China and end undeclared blockade’ among others, local businessmen were reported to have demonstrated in front of the Rasuwagadhi Customs Office.

There was a similar demonstration earlier at Tatopani checkpoint in Sindhupalchowk district bordering Chinese ruled Tibet, with the local businesspeople saying China had imposed an ‘undeclared blockade’, the report noted.

The blockades have continued despite the fact that Nepal’s Industry, Commerce and Supplies Minister Lekhraj Bhatta had expressed dissatisfaction over China’s recent behaviour over trade with Nepal. He was reported to have slammed China for blocking trade with Nepal for a year under various pretexts.

Imports from China too were reportedly rendered highly costly due to demands for hefty bribes by Chinese agents.

Nepal and China had signed a transit agreement on Mar 21, 2016. This was followed by the signing of a transit protocol on Apr 29, 2019 during President Bidhya Devi Bhandari’s state visit to China to implement the agreement.

And the protocol was to be implemented from Feb 1 last year. It allowed Nepal to use four open seaports and three open dry ports in Tibet and China. The seaports were Shenzhen, Tianjin, Zhanjiang and Lianyungang, while the dry ports were Lhasa, Lanzhou and Shigatse.

From Nepal, import and export are done only through Rasuwa and Tatopani checkpoints; but these have continued to remain obstructed, the report said.

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