Nepal has long been “a mouse trapped between elephants“, with a historically close relationship with India and more recently growing links to China. As Beijing’s influence increases, some in the country’s Tibetan community have reported feeling “suffocated”. Lobsang Sangay, political leader of the Dharamsala-based Central Tibetan Administration, has gone as far as to say that “Nepal has become almost a satellite state of China” as far as Tibet is concerned. The reported intimidation of a CNN crew last year and a 25-year-old Tibetan’s self-immolation in Kathmandu in February—the second there since 2008—have both highlighted this shift, which The New York Times’ Edward Wong reports is still underway:
The wind-scoured desert valley here, just south of Tibet, was once a famed transit point for the Tibetan yak caravans laden with salt that lumbered over the icy ramparts of the Himalayas. In the 1960s, it became a base for Tibetan guerrillas trained by the C.I.A. to attack Chinese troops occupying their homeland.
These days, it is the Chinese who are showing up in this far tip of the Buddhist kingdom of Mustang, northwest of Katmandu, Nepal. Chinese officials are seeking to stem the flow of disaffected Tibetans fleeing to Nepal and to enlist the help of the Nepalese authorities in cracking down on the political activities of the 20,000 Tibetans already here.
[…] For decades, there had been an understanding that Nepalese border guards would allow refugees they encountered to continue on to sanctuary. But now Tibetans suspect that the low numbers of refugees reaching Katmandu could be in part a result of guards sending back Tibetans they catch, especially since China is now involved in border security training programs.