Thursday, June 07, 2007


China and India need to tap Nathula for tourism promotion”

GANGTOK, June 6: The Chinese Government is looking forward to an increase in the volume of trade through the Nathula pass in the spirit of friendship, cooperation and new understanding that is in the interest of both countries.

Bu Jianguo, Minister Counsellor at the Chinese embassy in New Delhi, said this to Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Chamling here yesterday.

Ms. Jianguo, who led a four-member team on a visit to Sikkim to study the Nathula trade, said this during a meeting with the Chief Minister after the team’s return from Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) yesterday morning. The team had made a trip to Sherathang and Nathula on June 4 and had crossed over the border to Donqingang in TAR.

Ms Jianguo informed Mr. Chamling that China does not have any restriction as far as the items of trade were concerned, while adding that the purpose of their visit to Sikkim and TAR was to study the Nathula Border trade and survey the items of trade feasible to be included in the expanded list.

She further stated that to make Nathula trade a success and to materialise the demands of the traders of both the countries, she has invited the State Commerce Minister to initiate a dialogue with his Chinese counterpart.

She also added that both Sikkim and China should explore the possibility of tourism via Nathula Border and there was an urgent need for good infrastructure like hotels and warehouses on either side of the border for trade to flourish.

The Chief Minister, on his part, told the Chinese team that with reopening of Nathula for trade, the Sino-Indo relationship would get better and how important it was to expand and modernise the list of tradable items to enhance the volume of trade through the route. "New commodities which are of use to both countries could be included in the trading list, doing away with some of the indigenous items which are non-tradable and outdated," Mr. Chamling told the delegation. He further added that efforts were on to improve the existing infrastructure.

The Chief Minister also expressed his keenness to start a bus service a bus service between Gangtok and Lhasa was first broached by him soon after the agreement between India and China to reopen Nathula for trade was inked in 2003.

Mr. Chamling had assured the delegates that he would convey their message to the concerned authorities at the Centre and work towards the benefit of the traders of both the country.