Experiencing Nepal-China border crossing at Kodari-Khasa
Nepal and China had entered into an ‘Agreement on Trade and other Related Matters between the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) of China and Nepal’ on Sept. 30, 1956 which was renewed last time on July 10, 2002. The agreement says, those who wish to travel to the other country shall hold valid passports issued by the sending country and visa issued by the receiving country. Inhabitants of the border districts shall hold exit-entry passes with photo affixed ID Cards for the purpose of border trade, pilgrimage and visiting relatives and friends. But they are not allowed to go beyond the border districts into the interior of the other country. Generally the limit is 30 km from the borderline. Those with certificates for pilgrimage can travel through the designated routes and allotted entry points. They are not permitted to stay in the border districts of the receiving country for more than a month. Either party has the right to refuge entry into its territory of any persona non-grata.
All these points denote that there is a regulated border management system between Nepal and China. It means those who want to cross the border must produce valid passport and visa. But for the inhabitants of the border districts within 30 kilometer distance, identity card is sufficient. However, ID card was not necessary before 1 January 2006.
Any inhabitant of the bordering district who want to cross the Nepal-China (Tibet) and vice versa have to produce an authentic Identity Card compulsorily and those falling to comply with the rule will not be allowed to cross the border. The government officer, assigned by the Chief District Officer (CDO), provides ID cards to those who show the official identity card or citizenship certificate or other cards provided by the government. The ID card system was introduced as per the agreement reached at the ministerial level meeting of the two countries after the King’s visit to China in 2002.
This new rule was enforced from 1 January 2006. Card distribution function was inaugurated by the Rastriya Prajatantra Party President Pashupati Sumsher JB Rana, as a chief guest of the programme. After the inauguration programme, Rana was heading for Ramike Bazar at Litin of Tibet’s border area. But he was stopped by the Chinese police without any consideration for his ID card. Rana was issued ID Card Number-1 signed by Chief of the Tatopani Immigration Officer Kamal Raj Yogi. But Rana was prevented from entering Tibet although he had been issued the necessary ID card for getting an entry permit to Tibet. Infuriated Rana turned back when he was not given an entry permit by the Chinese police even after showing his card. The incident occurred on the very first day of the introduction of the ID card system on the Kodari-Khasa of China (Tibet)-Nepal border. Most probably the program organizing committee had not informed to the Chinese immigration office that the chief guest of the program is visiting on the other side of the border.
However it may be, the people living near to the border areas can visit and run businesses in either countries by producing valid identity cards. After the implementation of identity card system, visa is not necessary for the residents of Taplejung, Sankhuwasabha, Solukhumbu, Dolakha, Sindhupalchok, Rasuwa, Dhading, Gorkha, Manang, Mustang, Dolpa, Mugu, Humla, Bajhang and Darchula, They are visiting the nearby areas of Tibet without producing visas. Besides, inhabitants of Kathmandu Valley are also visiting Khasa (Zhangmu), the commercial town of China border with the ID card.
This scribe including my wife and relatives visited Khasa of China, crossing Tatopani and Kodari border on 1st February 2014. Infrastructure of the immigration office on the Chinese side was up-to-date as it was like any of the developed countries. We were on the line to submit the immigration permit brought from the Nepali immigration side with our original citizenship certificate. My wife and one of my relatives had the old type of citizenship certificates (on plain Nepali paper), not as the card format. Chinese immigration officer was about to stop them. But one official from Tatopani immigration office was with us. The Nepali official took guarantee for my wife and relative that they will come back from Khasa, and it was permitted to cross the border. The Chinese official stamped the Entry Mark on the immigration paper and told my wife and relative- ‘Next time new citizenship certificate.’
While we were making immigration permit at Tatopani office, the official had already told me that the Chinese official may not permit with this old type of citizenship certificate. So they were kind to us and joined one of the immigration officials and one armed police with uniform and one Sub-Inspector in plain cloth. They accompanied and escorted us up to the border crossing point and taxi stand. They managed one taxi cab for us with a reasonable fare to drive to Khasa town and they returned back to Tatopani. It was possible that Armed Police DSP Arjun Thapa recognized me as a Border Researcher, as I was talking with the security personnel at Nepal immigration office. Thanks god.
We returned back from Khasa town to the border crossing point. The same procedure was followed to show the permit paper and citizenship certificate. Chinese immigration official stamped the Exit Mark on the immigration paper and then we crossed the borderline. There was a red border line in the center of the Friendship Bridge on the Bhote Koshi River. We crossed the red border line and came to the Nepali side of the bridge. While we were taking some photographs on the bridge on the Nepali side, a Chinese police threw a piece of stone to our side and cried, not to take pictures.
After that we took some other pictures of the Nepali immigration gate. But there was no such systematic system in the Nepali side as the other side of the border. Anyway, we travelled to Khasa China Tibet via Tatopani and Kodari of Nepal. We travelled all the way from Kathmandu to Bhaktapur, Sanga, Banepa, Dhulikhel, Pachkhal, Dolalghat, Balephi, Khadichaur, Lamosangu, Barabise, Phulpin, Tatopani, Kodari and finally crossing the border to Khasa town of China.