China proposes joint security mechanism along border with Nepal

Kathmandu, December 25

China has proposed to set up offices of joint security forces along the Nepal-China border under the Joint Command Mechanism agreement, aimed at controlling the movement of Tibetan refugees and criminal activities.

Nepali authorities have not yet agreed to the Chinese proposal, but it is likely to be endorsed by the new government.

According to Sindhupalchowk Chief District Officer Ashman Tamang, Nepali and Chinese authorities held a joint meeting on the ‘proposal from the Chinese central government’ in Khasa, Tibet, on Saturday.

Tamang had led the 13-member Nepali delegation to the meeting. Political Commissar Wang Jin Tang had led the Chinese delegation comprising eight members.

“The Chinese believe an effective security mechanism could help control illegal and criminal activities along the border,” Tamang told THT. “The joint mechanism could carry out joint patrolling as per their proposal.”

During the meeting, the Nepali side told the Chinese that it needed the Home Ministry’s permission to decide on the matter. “We told them to either wait until another meeting, or they could directly deal with the ministry,” said CDO Tamang.

The Chinese proposal has not mentioned explicitly the locations where such joint offices are to be set up, said Tamang.

However, sources said such offices might be established on both sides of the border depending on the location.

As per the proposal, a three-tier mechanism would be set up — an administration mechanism led by the CDO, along with Armed Police Force and Nepal Police mechanisms.

Saturday’s meeting was part of a series of meetings between the two sides on border security after the 2015 disastrous earthquakes. It was the eighth such meeting.

The reopening of the Tatopani border point, which has been closed since the tremors, has always featured in the agenda of any Nepali delegation visiting China, or any Chinese team visiting Nepal.

China has been seeking security assurance from the Nepali side before reopening the crucial crossing.

But sources say Beijing is keen on reopening the border point after ensuring robust security. “Initially, they had decided to reopen the border in the first week of December, but it was put on hold after the Chinese authorities failed to complete road construction on their side of the border,” the source said.

According to Tamang, China has already built the Nyalam-Khasa road and construction of the road from Khasa to Nepal China Friendship Bridge is under way. “The road is expected to complete within two months,” CDO Tamang said.

CPN-Maoist Centre lawmaker Agni Sapkota, who won parliamentary elections from Sindhupalchowk district, said the Chinese authorities were ready to reopen the Tatopani border. “I’ve been holding consultations with Chinese political leaders and diplomatic officials on this matter,” he said.

Before its closure, the border point handled annual imports of more than Rs 20 billion, while yearly exports stood at Rs 2.75 billion.