Nepal Foreign Affairs (KATHMANDU, 31 August 2017) – The Rasuwagadi-Kerung border point between Nepal and China has been upgraded as an international crossing point with an aim to develop it as a major junction linking to the whole of South Asia.
With the upgration of this new border point, China has evidently conveyed message that the resumption of the oldest border point -Lhasa-Tatopani has not been in Beijing’s priority. Though China has been dealing this issue- opening up- the oldest trading point in a smart way, it seems reluctant to restore as before.
Rasuwagadi-Kerung is the only trade route currently in operation between Nepal and China. Nepal has been requesting China to open all major border points to enhance the bilateral connectivity.
The announcement of upgradation was made amid a function in Lhasa on Wednesday (30 August) ,with the presence of senior officials from the Chinese government and Consular General of Nepal in Tibet Govinda Bahadur Karki.
The Rasuwagadhi-Kerung border crossing was opened in December 2014, has been the only point of bilateral trade between Nepal and China after the Earthquake in April 2015 severely damaged the Kodari Highway in several sections. The Tatopani border point has remained closed since.
Responding to Nepal’s request, the Chinese side recently pledged Rs15 billion in support for its upgradation.
The Rasuwagadhi-Kerung crossing has been upgraded as an international border point, allowing citizens from other countries besides Nepalis and Chinese to travel across the border, Nepal’s Consular General Office in Lhasa said in a statement on Wednesday. Foreign ministries of Nepal and China had exchanged a diplomatic note in June to upgrade it as an international border point.
The second largest Tibetan city of Shigatse is about 540 km from Kerung, the nearest Chinese town from Nepal, while the bordering Nepali district of Rasuwa is 35km away from there. Kathmandu is 110km from the district.
Addressing a joint press conference, Vice-chairman of the Tibetan government Luo Mei said: “It is a matter of great pleasure to announce the upgradation of the Rasuwagadhi-Kerung border point with the Nepali side.”
Luo assured that they would upgrade the Kerung border point to facilitate Beijing’s ‘One Belt One Road’ initiative.
Although the movement of goods and services are currently limited to Nepal and China, trading with third countries will be possible once China enters separate agreements with other nations willing to do trade through this point.
China has developed and equipped the Rasuwagadhi-Kerung point with the state-of-art facilities. “Infrastructure and reconstruction of the border point has almost completed,” Luo said. “The upgradation of the border point is expected to boost trade, tourism and people to people contact between the two counties, and help implement the China’s OBOR.”
Echoing Lou’s sentiments, Consular General Karki said that Nepal would be greatly benefited with the announcement, adding that bilateral trade, tourism, investment and people to people contact would be increased.
“Having joined the OBOR initiative, Nepal has been stressing the need to promote trade, tourism and investment,” Karki said, while calling for the reopening of the historic Tatopani border point along with new trade routes.