TOKYO, April 3: The number of exiles from Tibet has declined because China is stepping up border control in the region, a senior envoy to the Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama said Friday.
"Normally until 2008, every year we had on average between 2,500 and 3,000 people who escaped from Tibet. But since the demonstration in March 2008, that number has fallen," said Tempa Tsering, the chief representative of the Buddhist monk who has been based in India since fleeing his Himalayan homeland in 1959.
"Last year about 600 have come out," he said. "That´s (because) firstly, the restriction in Tibet" by the Chinese authorities became tougher and "secondly, in all the mountain paths guarding is strengthened," he said.
"And thirdly in the Nepali government, the Chinese are now training Nepali army to guard the border, saying we´ll train your personnel, we´ll equip your police," he said in an interview with a group of reporters.
The comments came after Chinese security forces last month stepped up a crackdown in Tibet´s capital Lhasa, two years after protests marking a failed 1959 uprising erupted in deadly violence.
More than 400 people have reportedly been rounded up so far in the "strike hard storm" campaign, which has worried residents on edge since the March 2008 unrest in the remote Himalayan region.
The US State Department last month said China´s rights record "remained poor and worsened in some areas," with repression in the restive Tibet and Xinjiang regions, and the detention and harassment of activists.
The annual State Department report said China also imposed "tight government controls" on Tibetans, who faced restrictions on practicing their religion and severe repercussions if they tried to escape to Nepal.
Nepal has been under growing pressure from China to clamp down on Tibetans who try to cross the Himalayan region en route to India.