A government report from Nepal leaked to the BBC accuses China to invade Nepal along the shared border of the two countries. It is the first time that there are official claims from Nepal about Chinese interference in its territory.
The report was commissioned last September following allegations that China has been encroaching on Humla district, in the far west of Nepal. The Chinese embassy in Kathmandu denies there was an invasion.
The Nepalese government has not yet responded to the BBC’s queries. It is not clear why the report has not yet been released. But the Nepalese government has in recent years improved ties with China to counter its long-standing relationship with India, its giant neighbor to the south.
Tensions between Nepal and China
The report’s findings are likely to put pressure on these growing ties with Beijing. The border between Nepal and China stretches for almost 1,400 km (870 mi) along the Himalayan mountains.
It was established in a series of treaties signed between the two countries in the early 1960s. Much of it is in remote and hard-to-reach areas. On the ground, the boundary is demarcated by a chain of pillars separated by kilometers.
This sometimes makes it hard to tell exactly where the edge is. The Nepalese government decided to send a task force to Humla after reports of a possible Chinese invasion. Some claimed that China had built a series of buildings on the Nepalese side of the border.
The team was made up of police and government representatives. In its report, passed on to the BBC, the group found that surveillance activities by Chinese security forces had restricted religious activities on the Nepalese side of the border at a place called Lalungjong.
The area has traditionally been an attraction for pilgrims due to its proximity to Mount Kailash, just across the Chinese border, which is a holy site for both Hindus and Buddhists. The report also concluded that China had been limiting grazing by Nepalese farmers.
China was building a fence around a border pillar
In the same area, he discovered that China was building a fence around a border pillar and attempting to build a canal and road on the Nepalese side of the border. But the task force found that Chinese buildings originally thought to have been built inside Nepal had, in fact, been built on the Chinese side of the border.
The researchers found that local Nepalese were often reluctant to talk about border issues because some of them relied on continued access to Chinese markets across the border. The report recommended that Nepalese security forces be stationed in the area to ensure safety.
He also suggested that Nepal and China should revive a dormant mechanism established to resolve such border issues. Budhhi Narayan Shrestha, a prominent cartographer and former head of Nepal’s surveying department, said that people living near the border should be clearly told exactly where it is so they can better protect Nepalese territory.
hina denies any invasion
As China denies any invasion, it is unclear what its motives might be for asserting control of its border with Nepal, but security could be one reason. Historically, there has been some unofficial cross-border traffic, including pilgrims and traders, but China has gradually restricted this movement.
Vijay Kant Karna, a former Nepalese diplomat who now works at a think tank in Kathmandu, said Beijing may be worried about India, its regional rival with whom it has border issues of its own. “It seems that they are worried about infiltration by outside forces, so they want to disconnect relations across the border,” he said.
China might also be worried about moving in the opposite direction. The region on the Chinese side of the border is Tibet, from where many people have fled to escape what they see as a crackdown by Beijing. Some 20,000 Tibetan refugees live in Nepal; others have passed through on their way to India and elsewhere.
In recent years, China has tried to cut off this escape hatch. There have been reports of Chinese invasion of Nepal in the past two years, leading to occasional protests in Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu. The last demonstration was last month.
In response, the Chinese embassy in Nepal issued a statement in January saying: “There is no dispute at all. It is hoped that the Nepali people will not be misled by false individual reports.”
However, the embassy has not responded to the BBC about the specific allegations raised in the unpublished report. As we mentioned in AmericanPost.News, the Nepalese government is believed to have raised the border issue with Beijing, but does not say what China has said in response.
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