China encroaches on Nepalese land: Government Report

A Nepalese government report of September 2021 vintage, the British
Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has gained access to, accuses China of
encroaching into Nepal’s territory along the agreed border. This is the first
official claim by Nepal of Chinese interference in its territory. The report was
commissioned following claims that China had trespassed in the district of
Humla, in the far west of Nepal. The Nepalese government report accessed by
the BBC, highlights Chinese forces as having intimidated Nepal’s border
police. While the Nepalese government has played down the issue, Binay
Yadav, Chairperson of Rashtriya Ekta Abhiyan submitted a memorandum to
the United Nations office in Kathmandu stating that China had encroached
into Nepalese territory in Humla district and urged the international
community to take note of Chinese land grabbing tactics. The memorandum
has been sent to the US Embassy in Kathmandu, the European Union
Representative in Nepal, the Russian, Chinese, and Indian embassies in
There have been persisting reports of Chinese encroachment into Nepal in the
last two years, leading to occasional protests in the Nepalese capital,
Kathmandu. The latest demonstration was just last month. China, of course,
denies that it has encroached into Nepal. 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 with false individual reports.”
Following the publication of the leaked report, Nepalese Communications
Minister Gyanendra Bahadur Karki said “any border issues with its
neighbours would be dealt with diplomatically. Either with India or with
China, if there are any issues at our border, we will resolve them through
diplomatic means. Such problems should not arise, and the Nepal
government will always make efforts to prevent such situations,” he told a
regular news briefing in Kathmandu.
Interestingly, the report has been leaked and not officially published by the
Nepalese government. There could be several reasons for this the first,
Kathmandu has in recent years tried to improve relations with China, both
for economic and strategic reasons. Nepal’s relations with India continue to
be cordial, however, a long-standing boundary dispute has hampered ties in
recent years. The latest report’s findings are likely to put pressure on the
Nepal’s growing links with China. Nepal and China have a common border
that runs for nearly 1,400km (870 miles) along the Himalayas. The border
was laid out in a series of treaties signed between the two countries in the
early 1960s. Much of it is in remote, hard-to-reach areas. On the ground, the
boundary is demarcated by a chain of pillars, set some kilometres apart.
The Chinese land grab in Humla was first reported (The Daily Telegraph, 2
November 2020), when Nepalese politicians alleged that China had annexed
150 hectares of land in the region. In this area, China’s PLA soldiers had
crossed over into the Limi Valley, moving previously placed stone placed to
demarcate the boundary. Additional intrusions occurred also in Rasuwa,
Sindhupalchowk and Sankhuwasabha districts of Nepal. (Wion News, 23
August 2020). One report claims (The Economic Times, 3 November 2020) that
China first came into the Humla area in 2009 and constructed a veterinary
centre for livestock. But the Nepalese government took little notice at that
stage, and it was only in 2020 that a taskforce was sent to verify the Chinese
encroachment. Some claimed China had built a series of buildings on the
Nepalese side of the border.
The Nepalese government report, accessed by the BBC recently, found that
surveillance activities (based on the taskforce’s assessment) by Chinese
security forces had restricted religious activities on the Nepalese side of the
border at a place called Lalungjong. This area has traditionally been a draw
for pilgrims because of its proximity to Mount Kailash, just over the border in
China, which is a sacred site for both Hindus and Buddhists. The report also
concluded that China had been limiting grazing by Nepalese farmers. But the
taskforce found that Chinese buildings originally thought to have been
constructed inside Nepal had, in fact, been built on the Chinese side of the
In the same area, it found China was building a fence around a border pillar
and attempting to construct a canal and a road on the Nepalese side of the
border. Investigators found local Nepalese people were often reluctant to talk
about border issues because some of them depended on continued access to
Chinese markets across the border. The report also recommended the
stationing of Nepalese security forces in the area to guarantee security.It also
suggested Nepal and China should reactivate a dormant mechanism set up
to resolve border issues. Budhhi Narayan Shrestha, a prominent cartographer
and former head of Nepal’s survey department, said people living near the
border should be clearly told exactly where it is so they can better protect
Nepalese territory.
It is thought the Nepalese government has taken up the border issue with
China. Meanwhile, the Rastriya Ekta Abhiyan in its memorandum to the UN
claimed that China had encroached on Nepal’s land in Humla district and
urged the international community to heed to the Chinese land grabbing and
make a due intervention in the issue. Recalling that the government had
formed a panel to study the border dispute between Nepal and China in
Humla on 1 September 2021, the Abhiyan also urged the Nepali Congress-led
government to act as suggested by the committee formed under its initiation.
The Nepalese government had formed a committee under Jaya Narayan
Acharya, Joint Secretary in the Home Ministry, to study the dispute over the
Nepal-China border in Humla district. The Abhiyan memorandum claims that
“According to the study, the area between pillar number 5 (2) and the middle
of the Kit Khola has been marked as the border between the two countries
since the 1963 Boundary Protocol.” The Rastriya Ekta Abhiyan’s appeal adds
significantly, “….it has been discovered that the Chinese side has erected
fences and wires in Nepali land”.
The report is now pending with the Nepalese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The
border encroachment intensified in Humla during the then K.P. Oli-led
government. But then-Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali, referring to
a study done in 2016, said the structures were built on Chinese soil. Similarly,
the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu had clarified that the structures were
constructed in its own territory and there was no border dispute between
Nepal and China. The point is that China’s expansionist ambitions are
becoming clearer with each day. Is it time for India and Nepal to work together
to counter China?

News Desk

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