China is preparing to relocate the current residents of the earthquake-ravaged border town of Khasa to Xigatse, 200km to the northwest. The earthquake that hit central and eastern Nepal on 25 April affected Khasa as well and the residents were moved right after the quake. Some 43 Nepali families based there have also been relocated to Xigatse, while a few others have returned to Nepal. The Chinese are said to be keen to rebuild Khasa, and bring in mainlanders to live there.
“It is understood that China wants to establish a new settlement at Khasa, and we are going to be relocated to Xigatse,” a Khasa-based businessman told Kantipur.
Nepal’s Consul General in Lhasa Hari Prasad Basyal confirmed that China wants to rebuild the town as a modern and well-planned area and work has already started. “The reconstruction of roads has been done and they may start with the houses next,” he said, denying that that this was a forcible relocation. “I think they will let the ones who don’t want to move stay back.”
The border trading town of Khasa has remained closed following the earthquake. The Nepal Army and the Chinese Armed Police Force had cleared the road a few times but it was blocked again by landslides. Many container trucks with goods bound to Nepal are still stranded there.
Locals claim the resettlement plan is to discourage the illegal trade China believes has grown in the area because of the close ties between Nepalis and residents of the area. Officials say that even though China has security concerns it is also wary of the Tibetan refugees in Nepal.
The Chinese officials who have visited Nepal have always stressed the historic importance of the trade point and assured of developing the trade point that links the two countries. After the earthquake, China has pledged the highest amount for reconstruction.