Is China paying Nepali security force officers to handover Tibetans who attempt to enter Nepal? A fresh release by whistleblower website Wikileaks suggests such a possibility.
China has been increasingly concerned about Tibetans attempting to enter Nepal since the Tibet uprising in 2008. But this is the first indication that money is being offered to thwart such attempts.
The confidential diplomatic cable created by US embassy in New Delhi on February 22 this year and released last week by Wikileaks is titled 'Update on Tibetan refugee flow'.
"Chinese government rewards (Nepali forces) by providing financial incentives to officers who hand over Tibetans attempting to exit China," the cable quoted an unnamed source as disclosing this information.
The cable mentions that every year nearly 2,500 to 3,500 refugees from Tibet reach Dharamsala for an audience with the Dalai Lama. Most of them return back after a short pilgrimage across India.
But since March 2008 uprising in Tibet, the figure decreased significantly with only about 650 refugees reaching Dharamsala between April 2008 and March 2009.
"Beijing has asked Kathmandu to step up patrols of Nepali border forces and make it more difficult for Tibetans to enter Nepal," the cable added.
Most Tibetan refugees who go to Dharamsala enter India via Nepal after walking several days on foot through difficult terrain while trying to avoid Chinese troops.
In June this year, the Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet had highlighted how the Nepal government is under pressure from China to adopt a tough stance against Tibetan refugees.
An ICT report mentioned "disturbing inconsistency" in Nepal government's role in fulfilling a 'gentleman's agreement' with UN to provide safe transit to Tibetan refugees.
Kathmandu maintains a One China policy and takes 'action' against any Tibetan refugee entering the country without a valid permit.
In July this year, China provided Nepal with logistical support worth USD 295,000 for better security on the Nepal-China border. It also assured an annual assistance of USD 1.47 million to curb anti-China activities.