The first direct passenger bus from Kathmandu in Nepal to Lhasa in Tibet arrived in Tibet’s capital this week (4 May) after a four-day journey. The first bus linking Lhasa to Kathmandu left Lhasa on 29 April.
According to the Chinese press, the Sino-Nepalese agreement allows the bus to complete eight trips a month. The Chinese press stated that a single trip on the buses, purchased from a South Korean company, would take two days. Both China and Nepal envision eventually starting cargo services by road.
The bus link is a further indication of strengthening links between Nepal and China, particularly since Beijing’s support for King Gyanendra’s coup in February, when he was diplomatically isolated from the rest of the world. Nepal also hopes to gain from the Qinghai-Lhasa railway through these increased links.
In March, the Nepal-China Mutual Cooperation Society was established in Kathmandu, aiming to strengthen diplomatic relations further between the two countries.
In January, the Nepalese government formally moved to close the offices of the Representative of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Refugees Welfare Office (TRWO) in Kathmandu. Tibetan refugees transiting through and living in Nepal have been in an increasingly insecure position in a politically unstable Nepal over the past few years as the Chinese government has increased its direct political pressure on the Foreign and Home Ministries.