Politics

After a brief pause, Chinese authorities allow Humla residents to reenter Tibet

- ANIL GIRI, Kathmandu

Jun 10, 2019-

After a push from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Chinese authorities on Friday finally allowed Humla residents to cross into Tibet for work and business.  

Residents of Humla have long relied on Tibet for their livelihoods, but the killing of a Tibetan woman about a month ago by a Humla local in Tibet’s Taklakot had prompted the Chinese to bar locals from entering.

Following the Post’s report on Thursday, the Foreign Ministry had taken up the matter with the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu, after which Humla locals were allowed to resume trade and business across the border, according to Mahesh Kumar Pokhrel, assistant chief district officer at the Humla District Administration Office.

“After we reached out to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs via the Home Ministry, the issue has now been resolved,” Pokhrel told the Post over the phone from Humla.

Govinda Bahadur Karki, Nepal’s consulate general in Lhasa, had also taken initiative towards allowing Nepalis passage into Tibet, said Pokhrel.

After Chinese authorities stopped and sent back at least 470 locals from the border, the local administration had requested the Home Ministry to speak to the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu. There is a long tradition in Humla of going to work or doing business in Tibet as they are paid relatively better.

Most visit Taklakot, a town 30 kilometres from Hilsa, for work and business purposes. Until a few years ago, a local from Humla would earn up to Rs2,000 per day. Now, a Humla resident can make up to Rs5,000 per day doing daily labour in Taklakot. Chinese authorities issue one-year passes to Humla locals to go to Tibet.

Travel is also easier for Humla residents because of cultural similarities. China’s refusal to admit Nepalis meant that many locals risked losing jobs and business.

The local administration in Humla only learned about the barring of Nepalis in the third week of May. The Chinese side had earlier communicated to the district police office that a resident of Humla had been accused of killing a Tibetan woman. The accused is now in Tibetan custody.  

Upon learning of the incident, chiefs and representatives of all six local bodies had held an emergency meeting at the District Administrative Office and decided to request the federal government in Kathmandu to take up the matter with the Chinese side through diplomatic channels.

Humla locals are allowed to cross into Tibet as per the Nepal-China agreement on trade and payment. Article VIII of the ‘Trade and Payments Agreement’ between Nepal and China, signed in 1974, states that “with a view to improve the economic life of the border inhabitants, the two Contracting Parties agree that the border inhabitants of the two countries, may, within area of 30 kilometres from the border, carry on the traditional trade on barter basis, which shall not be subjected to the limitation of the above-mentioned provisions.”

Published: 11-06-2019 06:30

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