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Nepali traders fed up with China’s erratic Tibet-border policy

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(TibetanReview.net, May15’23) – The seemingly whimsical manner in which China opens and closes or restricts in other ways its occupied-Tibet border crossing points for movement of goods has left the businesspeople in Nepal harried, according to the kathmandupost.com May 14.

Just recently, China stopped Nepali exports through the Tatopani border point, saying there is no demand for the products, the report said, citing officials.

China re-opened the Tatopani border point on May 1, allowing trade to resume after a break of eight years. The day saw three container-loads of bamboo stools, rattan chairs and mattresses from Nepal being loaded into Chinese truck which then crossed the Miteri (Friendship) Bridge since Nepali vehicles are still not permitted to enter Tibet.

However, the very next day, on May 2, the border was slammed shut again, the report said.

As a result, “three containers loaded with plastic utensils have been stranded at the customs yard since May 2,” Dayananda KC, chief of the Tatopani Customs Office, has said.

“A Chinese agent informed us that there is no demand for such goods,” he has said. And “the traders are paying Rs5,000 to Rs10,000 in charges daily to the customs.”

Movement of goods is now taking place only one way on the Tatopani crossing: from Chinese occupied Tibet to Nepal.

KC has said five to six containers were arriving in Nepal daily from Tibet. “Imports have increased due to the large volume of goods imported for various development projects, particularly hydropower.”

Rajkumar Basnet, president of the Sindhupalchok Chamber of Commerce and Industry, has said the Kerung border point was, however, fully open, while exports through Tatopani had been stopped.

“China has reduced trade through Tatopani border under different pretexts. We have become fed up submitting memorandums to the government regarding the opening of the border in a full-fledged manner,” Basnet has said.

The Tatopani border point, some 115 km northeast of Kathmandu, has historically been the main land route for trade with Tibet and China. Its Customs Office used to collect more than Rs15 million in revenue daily before the border closed following the earthquake in Apr 2015. The euphoria which arose in Nepal on its recent reopening, unfortunately, did not last.

Besides, since May 1, Chinese authorities have been checking the Nepali goods by unloading them. “As a result, it takes around a month for a container to get clearance,” local trader Dorje Lama has said, adding exporting goods to China involved many hassles.

Kumar Shrestha, chairman of Bhotekoshi Rural Municipality-2, has said that locals and traders who were elated that their business would recover after China announced reopening two-way trade were disappointed again.

“Everybody is fed up with the abruptly changing policy of China. This shows that China has still not prioritised the Tatopani border,” he has said.

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