Thursday, October 29, 2015
Chini-Nepali Bhai-Bhai (Contd.)
(Video of the new Kyirong land port during the April earthquake)
Eighteen months ago, I mentioned on this blog the opening of Kyirong (Chinese: Gyirong) land port between Tibet (China) and Nepal.
I said that it will give a tremendous boost to Nepal's all-important economic relations with its giant northern neighbour.
At that time, the official China Tibet Online reported: "The Gyirong Port in southwest China’s Tibet bordered with Nepal will be formally opened in October this year . The opening of the Gyirong Port has been listed in the key work plan of national ports in 2014."
The website also announced that a cross-border China-Nepal Gyirong Port Economic Cooperation Zone would soon be established and the Gyirong Port would be built into a tourist destination.
The website affiliated with Xinhua gave some details: "The Gyirong Port enjoys a long history of being the largest land trading port between Tibet and Nepal. Many shop owners have expressed their hope that the opening of the port can help them get more involved in the border trade. From May 2007, the Shigatse Customs House will dispatch four officials to station at the Gyirong Port. A regular coordination system had been set up in order to seek support from the Gyirong county government, the Gyirong Customs and the Risur Customs of Nepal. Besides, the officials have been trying to promote preferential trade policies to encourage the local people to participate in the border trade."
The earthquake earlier in April this year delayed the operations of the land port, however, The South China Morning Post today reports that China will to provide fuel to Nepal via Kyirong ‘amid undeclared blockade by India’.
Quoting Agence France-Presse (AFP) in Kathmandu, the article says: “China will supply Nepal with 1.3 million litres of fuel to ease crippling shortages after protests over a new constitution blocked imports from India.”
The fact that trucks have been stranded at the India-Nepal border for a month, forcing fuel rationing across Nepal; but it is only a pretext.
Clearly Nepal will turn more and more towards Tibet/China for the supply of oil and other essential commodities.
According to Sushil Bhattarai, acting deputy managing director at the state-run Nepal Oil Corporation (NOC): “China has agreed to send us 1,000 metric tonnes, or 1.3 million litres of petrol, as a grant”.
AFP says the fuel will come via a land crossing which was repaired and reopened this month after suffering damage in the earthquake that hit Nepal in April; in other words, oil products will reach the Himalayan State via Kyirong.
The French news agency notes that it is “unclear whether China has donated fuel to Nepal in the past, but officials say the two countries have never commercially traded oil or gas.”
What means ‘grant’? It is another issue that Delhi should be worried about.
Let us remember that the trade between India and Nepal was blocked by protesters from the Madhesi ethnic minority, who have close cultural and linguistic ties to India.
The ‘opening’ up of Kyirong as a new land port for oil products is just a beginning. Soon the train will arrive in Kyirong and Chinese oil will then flow uninterruptedly to Nepal.
Does India have a Nepal policy?