After successfully building railway line through Tibet another ambitious project is going to become a reality. This is bound to have enormous impact on Tibet as well as the region. The Chinese premier and Nepalese Prime Minister K. P. Sharma Oli signed many important agreements ranging from infrastructure, technology, transportation and political cooperation. The Chinese have said that this ‘joint project’ holds a special importance for Tibet, its development and ‘stability’.
The proposed Tibet – Nepal link will connect Xigaze in Tibet to Kathmandu increasing connectivity between Nepal and Tibet. This is a very significant development for the region and may have very far reaching consequences. As of now it is not certain how this would change access of rest of the world to Tibet as China still regulates it with a cautious approach. It is of for sure that the project will serve Chinese interests and not that of Tibet’s interests.
In another significant development China and Nepal agreed in principle to expedite implementation of Belt and Road project in the region. This project includes developing aviation, communication infrastructure as well as development of railways and roads in the region to enhance connectivity in Tibet – Nepal region.
Tibet has had historical trade and cultural relations with Nepal and this project is certain to have a lasting impact on the relations between the Himalayan neighbors. However how much Tibet and the Tibetan cause would benefit from this is a glaring question that is difficult to be answered at this moment.
This is going to increase Chinese influence in Nepal and reduce its dependence on India. But above all it will hugely benefit China’s nefarious designs in the region.
The demographics in Tibet have undergone change in the recent decades. The increased trade that would come with the Tibet-Nepal Railway may benefit Tibet’s economy but Tibet’s already threatened demography may face new challenges.
The Chinese have said that this project is going to contribute to development of Tibet but it remains to be seen how this development would benefit Tibet and Tibetans. So far any plans to serve Chinese interests have always antagonized patriotic Tibetans.
Chinese ‘development’ plans have always come to fruition at a great cost to the host nation and this is where the Tibetans shall be watchful.