LIPANG VILLAGE, Nepal-China border (AFP) — China has deployed security personnel inside neighbouring Nepal to keep an eye out for protests by pro-Tibetan groups, Nepali officials have said.
Plain-clothes Chinese officers could be seen on Saturday on the Nepali side of the border with Tibet, and even blocked an AFP correspondent and photographer from working on Nepali soil near the main border crossing with Chinese-controlled Tibet.
The cross-border security measures come after unrest in Tibet and a major clampdown in Lhasa, the Tibetan capital.
"Because of the situation in Lhasa, there are a lot more plain-clothes Chinese armed police on the Nepal side," explained a senior Nepali military official who asked not to be named.
"In India, there are Tibetan exiles starting marches to Tibet, and the Chinese are scared the same thing could happen here," the military official told AFP from the border crossing near Lipang village, 70 kilometres (44 miles) northwest of Kathmandu.
Another Nepali border official confirmed the presence of Chinese security officials inside Nepal.
"Before, there were very few Chinese security on our side, but since the protest in Lhasa, there has been at least six Chinese security officials on the Nepali side of the border post all the time. Sometimes, there are as many as 12," said the Nepali border official, who also asked not to be named.
An AFP photographer was challenged by 10 Chinese security officials in civilian clothing and uniforms more than 200 metres (yards) inside Nepali territory, and ordered to erase his images of the area.
"We are a very small country. China is very powerful so we must do what the Chinese tell us," said the Nepali official, while refusing to say if Chinese security officials were allowed to detain people inside Nepal.
Landlocked and impoverished Nepal, which is wedged between Asian giants India and China, officially backs its northern neighbour's "One China policy," which sees Tibet and Taiwan as an integral part of China.
Nepal hosts thousands of Tibetan refugees, and each year about 2,500 Tibetans make the dangerous journey across the Himalayas from Tibet into Nepal on their way to Dharamshala -- the home of the exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama -- in northern India.
Travellers also described security on the Tibetan side of the border as tight.
"They've put up more barriers on the road and there are a lot more army and police around," said Keshab Timilsina, a Nepali truck driver who plies the road between Nepal and China.
Although the border appeared to be open to local travellers and traders, Nepali tour operators said they had been told not to bring in foreign tour groups.
"Our operator in Tibet is saying that the groups cannot come through the border any longer, and we are hearing that people who were on their way to Lhasa from Kathmandu are being turned around," said a tour operator, who also asked not to be named.
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