Chinese rider on Tatopani

Nepal wants China to modify the proposal as there are sensitive issues involved

Kathmandu January 13

CPN-UML Chairman KP Sharma Oli and CPN Maoist Centre Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal are in dilemma over a Joint Command Mechanism proposal floated by the Chinese government.

China has proposed to set up offices of joint security forces and jointly patrol the Nepal-China border to check  movement of Tibetan refugees and criminal activities.

The Chinese side floated the proposal in a meeting with the Nepalese side on December 22 during a border meeting in Khasa, Tibet. The Nepali delegation was led by Asman Tamang, Sindhupalchowk chief district officer.

Sources said Oli and Dahal could accept the Chinese proposal only if the Chinese side agreed to modify it through diplomatic channel.

“There are some sensitive issues involved in this proposal, so we want the Chinese side to modify it,” a source said.

CPN-MC leader Agni Sapkota informed Oli and Dahal about the Chinese proposal to set up joint security mechanism on the northern border.

CDO Tamang forwarded the Chinese proposal to Home Secretary Mohan Krishna Sapkota and Nepal’s Ambassador to China Lilamani Poudyal.  According to Tamang, the Chinese authority who led the meeting in Khasa has been sending repeated reminders to him about the proposal.

The next border meeting is scheduled for February.

According to sources, the Chinese side will open the Tatopani border only after Nepal accepts the proposal.

Tatopani border has been closed since the earthquake struck Nepal in April 2015.

“Chinese authorities do not have confidence in our security system and want to go for joint command mechanism,” CDO Tamang said.

CPN-MC leader Sapkota said Chinese authorities wanted to know the geographical suitability for human settlement in Khasa area for which they will conduct geological survey.  “On behalf of local, provincial and central governments, I told the Chinese side that we would not allow any anti-China activity in our soil,” he added.

According to sources, Chinese authorities have pointed out that there are still anti-Chinese activities going on in Barabise area, which is 30 km away from the Tatopani border.

The Chinese authorities have told Nepali leaders that the sloping land of Khasa became  fragile after the 2015 earthquake,  and therefore, they wanted to send a geographical survey team to the  area.

China has built a robust road from Nyalam to Khasa and is building a road from Khasa to the Nepali border.

Chinese Ambassador to Nepal Yu Hong had visited Tibet recently to take stock of the border areas.

Vice Prime Minister of China Wang Yang also visited Lhasa recently after visiting Nepal in August.

Chinese authorities are looking at the prospect of opening both  Rasuwagadi and Tatopani.

“As per my conversation with Chinese authorities, they are keen to resume the Tatopani border but they have some national security concerns,” Sapkota added.

According to Nepal’s Ambassador to China Lila Mani Poudyal, Chinese President Xi Jinping showed keen interest in the Tatopani border when former prime minister Dahal visited  China.

According to Sapkota, Chinese authorities feel Araniko Highway is much better than the Rasuwagadi road. The Chinese technical team has been working on expansion of Araniko Highway, said Sapkota.