The wind-scoured desert valley here, just south ofTibet, was once a famed transit point for the Tibetan yak caravans laden with salt that lumbered over the icy ramparts of the Himalayas. In the 1960s, it became a base for Tibetan guerrillas trained by the C.I.A. to attack Chinese troops occupying their homeland.
These days, it is the Chinese who are showing up in this far tip of the Buddhist kingdom of Mustang, northwest of Katmandu, Nepal. Chinese officials are seeking to stem the flow of disaffected Tibetans fleeing to Nepal and to enlist the help of the Nepalese authorities in cracking down on the political activities of the 20,000 Tibetans already here.