High-level Chinese visit to Nepal highlights difficulties for Tibetan community

A visit to Nepal by Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang from August 14 to17, 2017 – the highest level Chinese visit to Kathmandu since Premier Wen Jiaobao visited in 2012 – further strengthened economic and political ties with the new Kathmandu government. Combined with an agreement last month between Nepal and China to ensure cooperation in border law enforcement, and Nepal formally joining Xi Jinping’s ambitious ‘One Belt One Road’ plan, the developments point to a contracting space and dangers for Tibetans in Nepal as the Nepalese authorities deepen their relationship with their more powerful neighbor.

This ICT report gives an overview of the significance of the Chinese Vice Premier’s visit combined with China’s broader social and cultural engagement in Nepal for the current situation of Tibetans in Nepal, outlining the following developments:

  • A direct correlation between the deepening investment and aid from China and the vulnerabilities of Tibetans in Nepal, acknowledged openly by Bejing when it described its investment as a reward to Nepal for its “important role in guarding against Tibetan separatists” according to the state media on August 14. There has been a dramatic decline in Tibetan refugee arrivals and continued inaction on the status of Tibetan refugees; thousands of Tibetans remain stateless and in political limbo in Nepal.
  • New arrangements for border security and cooperation, including the establishment of a ‘joint action center’ in a town on Nepal’s border, following tighter border regulations imposed by China earlier this year. China views control of Tibet and its borders as of fundamental importance to the security of the entire country, and also as critical for exerting regional influence.
  • China connected the Vice Premier’s Nepal visit to its border dispute with India, in what has become a high-stakes struggle for influence across the Himalayas. Chinese state media acknowledged the timing of the visit was not coincidental, and stated that the current tensions had “highlighted the necessity for China to accelerate investment and economic aid to Nepal.” (Global Times, August 14, 2017).
  • Increasing efforts by the Chinese authorities in Nepal to control representations of Tibet, including offering training to Nepalese tour guides. A network of China-funded study centers, and other cultural engagement, seeks to draw attention to the historic and civilizational links between Nepal and China. This has the effect of undermining the deep connections that exist between the Tibetan and Nepalese people, based on an intricate history of relations including sharing trading routes, cultural and religious ties.
  • An increase in tourism and new infrastructural links, including a railway from Tibet to Lumbini, the Buddha’s birthplace, via Kathmandu were formally discussed during the Chinese VP’s visit to Nepal’s capital, together with a possible visit of China’s leader Xi Jinping.[1]

A correlation between Chinese investment and Tibetan vulnerabilities in Nepal

Several important agreements between Nepal and China were signed during the four-day visit by China’s Vice Premier Wang Yang and his delegation, marking a continued rise in Chinese investment in Nepal, which has never been higher. According to the Chinese state media, in March this year, China committed foreign direct investment of $8.2 billion to the Himalayan country out of total pledges of $13.52 billion received at the Nepal Investment Summit. The same Global Times article noted that: “The Chinese pledges overshadowed India’s commitment of $317 million at the same event.”[2] China overtook India as a top aid donor to Nepal last year.

According to a summary of the August visit by the Chinese Vice Premier in the Nepalese press, “The two sides also agreed to attract Chinese private sector investment to Nepal [and] to further enhance bilateral cooperation in areas of trade, tourism, investment, infrastructure development, energy, cross-border connectivity and people-to-people relations.” (Himalayan Times, August 15, 2017).

The connection between economic investment and suppression of Tibetans was confirmed in the Chinese state media, with the Global Times stating that one of the reasons for China’s increasing investment was to reward Nepal for its “important role in guarding against Tibetan separatists.” (Global Times, August 14, 2017).

Nepal is part of China’s strategic imperative to maintain and enforce political ‘stability’ in Tibet, meaning that the Chinese authorities seek to ensure complete control and crushing of all dissent, underlining a prominent political message that has been emphasized by Xi Jinping, which is that: “To rule the country, it is imperative to rule the frontiers; to rule the frontiers, stabilizing Tibet must be done first”.[3] Party officials equate political ‘stability’ in Tibet with the security of the entire PRC, and this approach has been extended to Nepal, with its close historic and cultural ties to Tibet, and location as gateway into exile for Tibetans who seek to leave Tibet.

This has been particularly evident since March, 2008, when protests swept across Tibet followed by a violent crackdown. Tibetans in Nepal held almost daily demonstrations for some time, and stronger measures were taken to prevent such expressions of anguish and solidarity.[4] Particularly since 2008, China-Nepal interaction has been characterized by Chinese financial or other support, and in return there is an expectation that Nepal will condemn, prevent or physically quash ‘anti-China’ activities on Nepali soil – although what constitutes ‘anti-China’ activity has never been defined. This leaves Tibetans in Nepal dangerously vulnerable. So-called ‘Free Tibet’ protests, such as demonstrations and gatherings with an overtly political tone, clearly fall into the category of ‘anti-China’ activities, but difficulties for Tibetans in Nepal have gone well beyond the political to include many different aspects of Tibetans’ cultural, social, civil and economic lives.[5]

During the visit of Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang, Nepal’s commitment to ‘One China’ policy was emphasized, “including the principled position of not allowing its territory to be used against neighbors” (Himalayan Times, August 15). In one Chinese commentary in the Nepalese press following the visit, Hu Shisheng emphasized that: “The Nepali government has also been very cooperative in prohibiting the Free Tibet Movement in Nepal and has made a great effort to stop the illegal emigration of Tibetans from China.”(Kathmandu Post, August 17, 2017).

Nepal signs up to ‘One Belt One Road’

At a special function held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Kathmandu, Foreign Secretary Shanker Das Bairagi, the ministry’s top bureaucrat, and Chinese Ambassador to Nepal Yu Hong signed up to China’s massive infrastructure project known as ‘One Belt One Road’. (Kathmandu Post)

On August 11, just prior to the Chinese Vice Premier’s arrival in Kathmandu, Nepal signed an agreement to be part of President Xi Jinping’s ambitious plan to build a new Silk Road – the ‘One Belt, One Road’[6] initiative – linking Asia, Africa and Europe. The intention is to expand China’s global economic and geopolitical reach.

Nepal’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Bharat Raj Paudyal said the main objective of the agreement is “to promote mutually beneficial cooperation between Nepal and China in various fields such as the economy, environment, technology and culture.”

The agreement focuses on boosting connectivity in areas such as transit, roads, railways, trade, aviation and power. Earlier this year, China proposed to build a cross-border power transmission line to permit electricity trade between Nepal and its Tibet Autonomous Region,[7] while the ongoing Transit Transport Agreement will enable Nepal to gain access to Chinese ports, ensuring trade with third-party countries and transit to Europe through land routes.[8] Nepal was previously reliant on India in the telecommunications sector, but from this month (August 2017) will have access to Chinese internet services and bandwidth supply, until now only provided by India.[9]

Nepal has also been in talks with China to build a cross-border rail link that may cost up to $8 billion. In an interview with Reuters in May (2017), Yug Raj Pandey, an under secretary at Nepal’s Ministry of Finance, said the two countries had been in discussions for the past five months about the project, which could cost $7-8 billion and take up to eight years to complete.[10] Negotiations are still ongoing, according to the Nepalese press, which reported that concrete decisions had not been made during the Chinese Vice Premier’s visit on constructing the rail link, which could run to Lumbini, the Buddha’s birthplace, where China is seeking to extend its influence.[11]

In 2014, China had confirmed plans to extend the railway in Tibet to the borders of India, Bhutan and Nepal by 2020, and the construction of a new line east from Lhasa close to India’s border, in a new strategic network. Construction of a new line to Nyingtri, close to the sensitive area of Arunachal Pradesh in India, which China claims as part of the People’s Republic of China, is underway. These developments – including the rail link to Nepal – have created alarm in India with implications for regional security being raised by commentators in India and South Asia.[12]

The concerns were heightened by Nepal signing up to the ‘One Belt, One Road’ project. According to one Indian commentator: “As India continues its heavy involvement in Nepal’s internal politics, the prospect of Chinese political involvement stokes fears of increased complexity and even proxy-struggles of two regional superpowers. […] India is worried about its own strategic interests and therefore increasingly concerned by China’s growing engagement in Nepal. […] Be in no doubt that China will continue on its path of engagement and investment. India’s image and strategic position have been damaged by the growing perception in Nepal that ‘India promises, China delivers’.”[13]

Tightening border controls a focus of high-level visit

According to the Nepalese press, a ‘joint action center’ in Rasuwa, Nepal, has been established in order to ensure “cooperation between the two countries [China and Nepal] in border law enforcement”. This follows the near-completion of a long-awaited road link from Hilsa on Tibet’s border to Simikot.[14] A report in Republica in Nepal on July 8 (2017) states that the Center, which is based in a border town where there is a Tibetan settlement and a primary school, “will consist of Nepal Police personnel, Armed Police Force (APF) personnel and immigration employees. The body will work to control cross-border crimes, terrorism and illegal movement of people and enhance exchange information to ensure peace and tranquility in the bordering areas.”[15]

The Indian press also noted that China recently funded the construction of a Nepalese Armed Police Force training academy,[16] reporting that: “The APF officers have been guarding the Nepal-Tibet border to stop the infiltration of Tibetans into Nepal.”[17]

This development links to tighter border regulations imposed by China in January (2017) which the Chinese leadership said were necessary in order to “battle the risks of terrorism and ‘separatism’”, according to the state-owned Global Times. In 2015, China passed its first counter-terror law, rejecting concerns from international governments that draconian measures in the name of national security and intensified militarization are being used to crack down on Tibetans, Uyghurs and Chinese civil society and to undermine religious freedom and civil society, despite the absence of any violent insurgency on the Tibetan plateau.[18]

The new ‘Border Management Regulations of the Tibet Autonomous Region’, which became operational from January 1, 2017, expand the scope of an earlier law in place since 2000, covering “land ports, trade zones and scenic spots”, according to the same Global Times article. (January 2, 2017).[19] “As Tibet further opens up with fast economic development, the border areas have witnessed more disputes and diverse criminal activities, including those involving separatism, illegal migration and terrorism,” Badro, deputy head of the Tibet border police, was quoted as saying in Global Times.[20]

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army and the Nepal Army have established a military assistance program in recent years, including the supply of equipment, training, infrastructure development and the exchange of high-level delegations. Marking an extension of this engagement, in April (2017), the first joint Nepal-China military exercise was held “with a special focus on combating terror”, to the concern of their Indian neighbor.[21]

Relocation of Tibetans from border town underscores intensifying militarization

During the Chinese Vice Premier’s visit, both sides also agreed to “improve facilities” at border points, and discussed the opening of the Friendship Bridge border point at Dram (Chinese: Zhangmu), the main crossing point into Nepal from Tibet.

In Dram, which clings to the mountain on the Tibetan side of the border, the Chinese leadership used the devastation of the earthquake in April 2015 to progress political objectives by relocating most of its population permanently and turning it into a military garrison town.

Dram had long been a focus for the Chinese authorities as a crucial transit place for Tibetans seeking to flee into exile. Since protests swept across Tibet in 2008, security was dramatically tightened in Dram and border areas, and as a result of this and other factors the number of Tibetans escaping into exile began to drop dramatically from 2008 onwards.

The town was severely affected by the 7.8-magnitude quake that struck Nepal and parts of the Tibet Autonomous Region on April 25, 2015, and hit by a powerful aftershock two days later that destroyed 10% of its buildings, causing cracks or other damage to “all buildings” in the town, according to a Chinese state media report. Hasty evacuations of people from Dram were continued even after the rebuilding of Dram after the earthquake, consistent with the Chinese authorities’ political objectives in the area to strengthen border security and prevent Tibetans escaping across the mountains into exile via Dram. More troops were installed in the sensitive border town, depicted recently in a state media report. Entitled ‘Soldiers work in “empty town”’, the report featured images of soldiers in front of shuttered buildings.[22]

Dramatic decline in Tibetan refugees transiting through Nepal

As a result of the tighter security in the border areas as well as the crackdown in Tibet since 2008, there has been a dramatic decline in Tibetans escaping from Tibet into Nepal in the past nine years. Figures cited by Nepalese immigration officials demonstrated a drop from 1,248 Tibetans in 2010 to 85 applications for an exit permit to India (showing transit via Nepal) in 2015. Department of Immigration (DoI) Director General Kedar Neupane acknowledged the stricter controls on both sides of the border, but also revealed how Nepalese officials often use the language of Chinese propaganda when he was cited as saying that: “Tibetans are opting to stay in their homeland because of declining fervour over the Dalai Lama.”[23]

Although this is how the Chinese authorities seek to represent the decline in Tibetan new arrivals who transit through Nepal, it is not the case. This was evidenced, for instance, earlier this year when thousands of Tibetan pilgrims were compelled by the Chinese authorities to return to Tibet after travelling to India to attend a major teaching by the Dalai Lama in Bodh Gaya, a sacred Buddhist site, India, in January (2017). This followed systematic measures in Tibet to prevent them travelling out of the country at all, even though many had spent years obtaining passports for legal travel.[24]

It was the most systematic crackdown so far linked to a Dalai Lama’s teaching in exile, following a trend of increasingly hardline steps targeting continued devotion to him within Tibet, while the Chinese authorities are unable to undermine his high global profile. In 2012, the Chinese authorities launched a major operation to detain Tibetans attending the last Kalachakra in Bodh Gaya, ‘disappearing’ many pilgrims for weeks or months on their return, and holding them for long periods for ‘re-education’ in military camps and other facilities. In July 2014, when the Dalai Lama conferred another Kalachakra initiation in Ladakh, India, for the first time the religious teachings were described by the Chinese state as an incitement to ‘hatred’ and ‘extremist action’.[25]

China’s Tibet propaganda in Nepal

These images from the Chinese state media show a training session for Nepalese tour guides on Tibetan culture, run by Chinese scholars, on June 8 (2017).

As part of its efforts to promote its political representations on Tibet in Nepal, the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu organized a training session for Nepalese tour guides this summer – to train them on Tibetan culture.

Official scholars from the Chinese Tibetology Research Center gathered to give lectures to more than 50 tour guides from more than 20 local travel agencies in early June.[26] The purpose, according to the Chinese official report, was to transform Nepalese tour guides into expert “communicators of Tibetan culture.”

This is despite the cultural, religious and trade ties between Tibet and Nepal that have existed for centuries, and that are evident across Nepal.

The Buddha was born in present-day Lumbini, close to Nepal’s border with India, and more than ten per cent of Nepalis practice Tibetan Buddhism. Even the Hindu majority follows variants of Hinduism that incorporate many aspects of Tibetan Buddhism, particularly in Nepal’s hill and mountain regions where they often share deities as well as temples.[27] Nepal’s Sherpa and other communities share with many other Himalayan peoples a devotion to the Dalai Lama. Many Nepalis express support for the Tibetan struggle, but they too are struggling – against significant economic, social and political challenges following a decade-long armed conflict between government forces and Maoist fighters.

After the earthquake shook Nepal in April, 2015, the Nepalese Buddhist Federation and other groups coordinated various relief efforts across the community, involving many Himalayan and Tibetan monks and nuns in active rescue and rebuilding work, although there was little recognition of their involvement in the Nepalese media.[28]

Monks from Benchen monastery

Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns were active in relief work after the April, 2015, earthquake, although there was little acknowledgement of their efforts in the Nepalese media.

The tourist boom and a deepening social engagement

This image from the Chinese state media shows the first batch of Chinese mainland tourists holding Nepal travel visa at the Consulate General of Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal in Lhasa. Nepal announced last year that it was waiving visa application fees for Chinese tourists.

The relationship between China and Nepal is not only predicated on investment; the Chinese authorities pursue a multi-dimensional engagement with the Kathmandu government and the Nepalese people, involving a focus on tourism and cultural exchange.

The tourist industry between Nepal and China is booming, with the number of Chinese tourists in Nepal growing at an average of nearly 25% every year. Chinese tourist arrivals to Nepal increased by 55% to 104,005 in 2016, according to the Chinese state media, assisted by increasing connectivity via new flight routes opening up.[29] In 2013, the number of Chinese tourists visiting Nepal increased by 250% since 2009.[30] Chinese tourists were allowed to travel visa free from January 2016, and China has designated 2017 as the Nepal Tourism Promotion Year.

China has also deepened its engagement in the social and economic sphere. Nepali politicians, professionals, students, military leaders are increasingly invited to Beijing, Lhasa, or elsewhere in the PRC for seminars or study trips, while Nepalese students are funded to study in China.

Through 35 China Study Centers set up across Nepal, China aims to highlight ancient and civilizational links with China.[31] The Nepal-China Mutual Cooperation Society funded by the Chinese Embassy in Nepal, is aimed at strengthening diplomatic relations between the two countries as well as disseminating an image of a friendly China, with other associations including the Nepal-China Executives Council in Kathmandu.

In February (2017), a beginner Mandarin class was officially launched by Nepal’s Ministry of Education, in a bid to strengthen education exchange between Nepal and China, according to Xinhua. A Nepalese joint secretary at the Ministry of Education told Xinhua, ‘Nepal has a lot to learn from China in the sectors like technology, education system, culture, trade and tourism. Learning about these areas is possible only through language, so we felt it’s necessary to train our officials first for knowledge and technology transfer’. (People’s Daily in English, February 14, 2017).

The difficulties of lack of documentation for Tibetans

Life in Nepal has not only become harder for those Tibetans attempting to cross the border, but also for the more than 20,000 long-staying Tibetans in Nepal. China has adopted an entrenched and more systematic approach to constraining the Tibetan community in Nepal as part of its Tibet stability strategy. Where once Tibetan refugees in Nepal were safe from China’s reach, the Chinese government’s new more complex engagement with Nepal renders Tibetan refugees increasingly vulnerable.

China has instigated a process of delegitimizing the Tibetan community in Nepal, which began in 1994 when Nepal stopped issuing or renewing refugee identification cards, and continued when the Office of the Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Welfare Office were forced to close in 2005. There is a fundamental need for documentation – whether refugee identification or citizenship – for Tibetans in Nepal. The status quo means that large numbers of bona fide Tibetan refugees in Nepal, including all those born after 1978, are effectively stateless, vulnerable to political exploitation, and unable to partake in state services or travel without threat of harassment, extortion or detention.

As this report has detailed, China’s increased aid, support for security forces, high-level political visits, infrastructure construction projects and trade have all been openly contingent on Nepal’s demonstrated commitment to a ‘one China’ policy through prevention of ‘anti-China’ activities by Tibetans.[32]

Economically, Tibetans face issues in common with Nepalis that relate to Nepal’s fragile post-conflict situation, but these are compounded by restrictions on their owning property, registering businesses and working in the public sector. Of great concern, recent policy changes have effectively excluded Tibetans from applying for further education or motorcycle driving licenses, policies which will potentially have a significant long-term impact on the Tibetan community’s economic standing.

In a visit to Nepal in May, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and members of the bipartisan Congressional Delegation to India and Nepal highlighted this lack of documentation and the importance of addressing it.[33] Leader Pelosi, who has been a steadfast supporter of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan people, had earlier led a Congressional delegation that visited Tibet in November 2015. While in Dharamsala to meet the Dalai Lama during in May (2017), Leader Pelosi observed that: “China uses its economic leverages to silence the voices of friends of Tibet. […] We will not be silenced, you will not be silenced. The brutal tactics of the Chinese government towards religion, culture and language of the Tibetan people challenges the conscience of the world.”[34] 

Support for Tibetans from Nepalese civil society

Over the past decade, the majority of Nepal’s civil society organizations have been engaged in working on conflict-related issues and human rights injustices that effect millions of Nepali people. Despite this, a few organizations have worked consistently on the Tibetan issue, notably the Human Rights Organization of Nepal (HURON). Rights organizations have also forged alliances with experts, academics and policymakers in a bid to include refugee law within the new constitution of Nepal.

Last year, one NGO in Nepal, Kathmandu based INHURED International, registered a complaint at the National Human Rights Commission after multiple cases of Tibetans facing obstacles in obtaining basic documentation were observed during outreach efforts.[35]

Eroded safeguards: recommendations

The combination of China’s political strength and Nepal’s relative weakness has left Nepal’s Tibetan population little to rely on in the way of protection as their legal status has been delegitimized and their representative and welfare offices are under pressure. Nepal may not have completely capitulated to Chinese pressure, and its strong connections to India endure, but what few sources of protection remain for Tibetans are increasingly fragile.

ICT recommends:

  • The Nepal government should ratify the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees of 1951 and its additional Protocol of 1967, the 1954 Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness and adopt implementing legislation.
  • The international community should work multilaterally to urge the Nepal government to implement a formal protection policy for refugees that regularizes the status of long-staying Tibetan refugees.
  • The Nepal government should issue long-staying Tibetans who have settled in Nepal before 1989 and their offspring official documentation that guarantees their right to live, work and study in Nepal, and allows their travel outside of Nepal.
  • The Nepal government should respect Tibetans’ fundamental rights and freedoms, including the right to peaceful assembly, in accordance with Nepali domestic and international law. The Nepal government should allow Tibetans to take up opportunities, such as the US government-proposed resettlement program, and seek other durable solutions for Tibetans in Nepal.
  • The international community in Nepal should seek opportunities to demonstrate support for the Tibetan community through mutual participation in social, cultural and other activities.

Footnotes:
[1] Khabar Online, August 16, 2017, http://english.onlinekhabar.com/2017/08/16/405165.html.

[2] Global Times, August 14, 2017, http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1061315.shtml

[3] For instance, on March 9, 2013, Xi Jinping joined a discussion with the Tibet delegation at the 12th National People’s Congress, and Xi Jinping emphasized this ‘strategic thought’. (Global Times, March 9, 2013).

[4] ICT documented the situation for Tibetans on an annual basis for some years in its series of reports entitled ‘Dangerous Crossing’ – all these reports are archived at: https://www.savetibet.org/category/publications/major-ict-report/dangerous-crossing/

[5] Such difficulties are detailed in the ICT report ‘Dangerous Crossing’ in 2012: https://www.savetibet.org/dangerous-crossing-2011-update/ Human Rights Watch also documented these issues in its report of July 23, 2008, ‘Appeasing China: Restricting the Rights of Tibetans in Nepal’, https://www.hrw.org/report/2008/07/23/appeasing-china/restricting-rights-tibetans-nepal

[6] China’s massive ‘One Belt One Road’ strategy aims to connect more than 60 countries across Asia, Europe and Africa with physical and digital infrastructure.

[7] Officials of State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC) visited Nepal late last year ago to hold discussions with the Energy Ministry and the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) to build a 400 kV power line linking Rasuwagadhi and Kyirong across the northern border. (Kathmandu Post, March 21, 2017).

[8] This agreement was signed in March 2016 during the previous Nepalese Prime Minister KP Oli’s visit to China (KP Oli served as Prime Minister until August 2016). Sher Bahadur Deuba of the Nepali Congress party was sworn-in as the 40th prime minister of Nepal on 7 June 2017 after Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre) Chief Pushpa Kamal Dahal resigned on 31 May, honouring the power-sharing deal struck between the two parties in July 2016.

[9] ‘Nepal’s tryst with the neighborhood’, by Rishi Gupta, August 5, 2017, http://www.eastasiaforum.org/2017/08/05/nepals-tryst-with-the-neighbourhood/?utm

[10] Reuters, May 14, 2017, http://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-silkroad-nepal-idUSKBN18A05F

[11] PTI, August 15, 2017, http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/international/world-news/nepal-china-sign-three-pacts-to-boost-energy-economic-ties/articleshow/60075580.cms In the interview with Reuters, Yug Raj Pandey also said that Nepal planned to start preparing a detailed project report for the railway, and that they had yet to decide how much funding they will seek from China. The railway will travel over 400 kilometers in China to the Nepal border, and then about another 150 kilometers from the Nepali border to Kathmandu, he said. For an Indian perspective, see ‘The new Great Game’, by Yatish Yadav at: http://www.newindianexpress.com/thesundaystandard/2017/apr/23/the-new-great-game-1596647–1.html

[12] #ICT report, November 12, 2014, https://www.savetibet.org/new-strategic-rail-network-to-tibets-borders-endangers-environment-raises-regional-security-concerns/

[13] ‘How China’s delivery entices Nepal’ by Subindra Bogati, August 17, 2017, Hard News, India.

[14] The Nepalese media reported in July that people have now begun to “transport daily essentials from Tibet” along the 70-kilometer section of the road that has been completed, with road project officials saying that construction will be finished in mid-September. Kathmandu Post, July 9, 2017, http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2017-07-09/simikot-hilsa-road-construction-nearing-completion.html

[15] July 8, 2017, Republica, http://www.myrepublica.com/news/23345/

[16] In an article in the Indian press that focused on how the government of India is losing ground in Nepal compared to Chinese inducements, Hard News reported that in contrast: “In 2014, India signed a MoU with Nepal to construct the National Police Academy for Nepal Police; however, three years have already elapsed with no progress made. India is pushing for involvement in all aspects of the project, including the appointment of consultants, preparation of the master plan, construction of infrastructure, and mobilisation of expenditure. China built the APF training academy without this kind of involvement from India.” (‘How China’s delivery entices Nepal’ by Subindra Bogati, August 17, 2017, Hard News, India).

[17] ‘How China’s delivery entices Nepal’ by Subindra Bogati, August 17, 2017, Hard News, India.

[18] ICT report, January 7, 2016, https://www.savetibet.org/chinas-first-counter-terror-law-and-its-implications-for-tibet/

[19] Bylined Chen Heying, http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1026809.shtml

[20] Global Times cited news site gmw.cn on December 14, 2016.

[21] Indian press agency PTI, April 16, 2017, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/south-asia/nepal-china-hold-first-ever-joint-military-exercise/articleshow/58207943.cms .

[22] ICT Inside Tibet report, June 12, 2017, https://www.savetibet.org/ict-inside-tibet-children-banned-from-prayer-during-holy-month-and-intensification-of-border-security/

[23] Nepali Times, June 14, 2016, http://www.nepalitimes.com/blogs/thebrief/2016/06/14/fewer-tibetan-refugees/. The Nepalese Department of Immigration gives the following figures in the article of the number of Tibetan refugees in Nepal seeking exit permits to India: 2010: 1,248; 2011: 521; 2012: 320; 2013: 185; 2014: 92; 2015: 85; 2016 (until mid-June): 53. Neupane was cited as saying: “We are implementing a stringent inspection policy at all border points.  As a result, the number of Tibetan refugees entering Nepal has dropped, which accounts for the decreasing number of applicants for exit permits for India.”

[24] See reports on difficulties in obtaining passports by ICT at: ‘A Policy Alienating Tibetans: The Denial of Passports to Tibetans as China intensifies control’, https://www.savetibet.org/policy-alienating-tibetans-denial-passports-tibetans-china-intensifies-control/ and Human Rights Watch, ‘One Passport, Two Systems: China’s Restrictions on Foreign Travel by Tibetans and Others’, https://www.hrw.org/report/2015/07/13/one-passport-two-systems/chinas-restrictions-foreign-travel-tibetans-and-others

[25] Kalon Karma Gelek Yuthok, Chairman of the Kalachakra Organising Committee, said that the number compelled to return totaled nearly 7,000. A Tibetan in Bodh Gaya told ICT: “The Chinese authorities are using methods that show they really know how to hurt people and force them to go home. Monks have been told that if they do not return home, they will have to leave their monasteries. With others, when warnings that they will lose their pension or job do not work, they threaten their families. Even if they do not care what happens to them, because being at the Kalachakra in the presence of His Holiness is so important, they obviously cannot accept that.” ICT report, January 9, 2017, https://www.savetibet.org/tibetan-pilgrims-compelled-to-return-from-dalai-lama-teaching-in-bodh-gaya-india-china-calls-the-teaching-illegal/

[26] Tibet.cn on June 8, 2017.

[27] Dahal, Dilli Ram, “Social Composition of the Population: Caste/Ethnicity and Religion in Nepal,” Population Monograph of Nepal, 2003, Central Bureau of Statistics, Government of Nepal, 1: 104-106

[28] ICT report, May 1, 2015, https://www.savetibet.org/the-impact-of-the-nepal-earthquake-in-tibet/ Among the Buddhist groups involved, with the Karuna Shechen, Nepal Buddhist Foundation, and Chogyur Lingpa. Information about the impact of the earthquake on different monastic communities in Nepal can be found on various websites including: http://www.benchen.org/en/earthquake-in-nepalhttp://earthquakerelief.cglf.org/

[29] Xinhua, July 15, 2017. The article reported that the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) had granted approval to China’s Tibet Airlines to conduct four flights a day on the Chengdu-Kathmandu route, from July 20 (2017). Once the Tibet Airlines starts China-Nepal flights, it will be the fifth Chinese airline entering into the Nepali market.

[30] ‘How China’s delivery entices Nepal’ by Subindra Bogati, August 17, 2017, Hard News, India.

[31] See Jayadeva Ranade, ‘China Unveiled: Insights into Chinese Strategic Thinking’., 2013, New Delhi: KW Publishers Pvt. Cited by Aakriti Vinayak, Research Intern, Institute of Chinese Studies, Delhi in ‘Opening Doors Southwards: China’s Increasing Presence in Nepal’, August 24, 2017, at: https://icsdelhiblogs.wordpress.com/2017/08/24/opening-doors-southwards-chinas-increasing-presence-in-nepal/

[32] The specific ways in which Tibetans’ rights to freedom of movement, expression, assembly, cultural life and religion have been significantly curtailed in Nepal are detailed in ICT’s report, ‘Dangerous Crossing’, 2011 update, at: https://www.savetibet.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Dangerous-Crossings_2011-Update.pdf

[33] A video of their press conference afterwards can be viewed at this ICT link: https://www.savetibet.org/leader-nancy-pelosi-congressional-delegation-hold-press-conference-on-visit-to-tibetan-communities-in-india-nepal/

[34] May 10, 2017, Economic Times, India, http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/defence/china-uses-economic-leverages-to-silence-tibets-friends-nancy-pelosi/articleshow/58609540.cms

[35] INHURAD International stated its website at: http://inhuredinternational.org/source/Sharing%20News%20on%20Vital%20Registration%20of%20Tibetan%20Refugees%20-website.pdf: “During our outreach and legal aid program, INHURED received overwhelming complains about administrative hurdles faced by Tibetan Refugees in obtaining the certificates. After receiving numerous cases, we lodged complaint at National Human Rights Commission.” The NGO also reported that: “With the assistance from the commission, we have been able to receive a written letter from the Government reiterating rights of Tibetan refugees to obtain vital registration certificates. This will be applicable to all Tibetan refugees residing in Nepal,” the letter further stated. There is no further news about this letter and its outcome.

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