According to a statement released to the BBC by the Nepalese government, China is pressing on Nepal’s shared border.
It is the first time Nepal has made an official charge of Chinese meddling on its soil. The research was commissioned last September in response to allegations that China had been intruding in Nepal’s far west, in the district of Humla. The Chinese embassy in Kathmandu denies that any incursion has occurred. Following the release of the leaked study, Nepalese Communications Minister Gyanendra Bahadur Karki stated that any border disputes with the country’s neighbors would be handled peacefully.
“If there are any concerns at our border, whether with India or China, we will settle them diplomatically.”
It is unclear why the Nepalese government has yet to release the findings. However, in recent years, it has developed ties with China to offset its long-standing connection with India, its massive southern neighbor. For years, relations between Nepal and India have been impeded by a long-standing boundary dispute. Along the Himalayan highlands, their shared boundary stretches for about 1,400 kilometers (870 miles). It was spelled out in a series of bilateral treaties negotiated in the early 1960s.
Much of it is located in isolated, difficult-to-reach locations. The boundary is marked on the ground by a series of pillars spaced km apart. This can make determining the exact location of the border difficult. Following warnings of possible Chinese invasion, the Nepalese government decided to dispatch a taskforce to Humla. According to some reports, China has constructed a series of structures on the Nepalese side of the border.
There used to be some unofficial cross-border travel, including pilgrims and traders, but China has increasingly reduced this. Former Nepalese ambassador Vijay Kant Karna, who now works at a think tank in Kathmandu, believes Beijing is concerned about India, a regional adversary with which it has its own border concerns.
“It appears that they are afraid about infiltration from outside forces, so they want to cut off cross-border ties,” he said.
Tibet is an area on China’s side of the border where many people have fled to escape what they perceive to be Beijing’s tyranny. Nepal is home to over 20,000 Tibetan refugees, with many more passing through on their way to India and other countries. China has attempted to close off this escape route in recent years.
Over the previous two years, there have been rumors of Chinese expansion into Nepal, resulting in riots in Kathmandu, the Nepalese capital. The most recent demonstration took place just a few weeks ago. In January, the Chinese embassy in Nepal released a statement saying: “There is no disagreement. It is anticipated that erroneous individual reports will not mislead the Nepalese people.”
The embassy, on the other hand, has not responded to the BBC’s inquiries about the particular charges made in the unpublished report. The Nepalese government is reported to have raised the border problem with Beijing, but it is not disclosing what China has said in response.
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