The Sino-Nepalese Treaty of Peace and Friendship, officially signed on April 28, 1960, ratified the previously settled upon borders between Nepal and China. courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Tensions rise over Nepal’s border relations

Leaked reports claim China is encroaching on Nepalese territory.

Last week, reports began to leak from Nepal’s Government that China is encroaching upon their shared border. This is the first public, official report about any current Chinese interference in Nepal, and this is following claims that the country trespassed last year in Humla, a western district of Nepal. These reports are not surprising, but come as a great concern coinciding with the conflict on the border of Russia and Ukraine.

While the Chinese embassy in Kathmandu has denied any reports of interference in Nepal, Gyanendra Bahadur Karki, the Nepalese Communications Minister, responded to the reports in a news briefing by saying, “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.” Even just last month there was a dispute between India and Nepal about their border in relation to the Sugauli Treaty of 1816, which Nepal claims places the territories west of the Mahakali River in their control. While diplomatic solutions are being sought by Nepal in both cases, the potential encroachment of China adds extra, unnecessary political strain and conflict to the region.

That being said, the report has not been published by any Nepalese authority at this time. This is very confusing and a little suspicious, as there is no reason for Nepal to hold off on publication, unless the reports are not substantiated yet. Nepal and China have worked hard to improve their relationship with each other in recent years, particularly in an effort to counterbalance the conflict between Nepal and India, so it seems very out of character for China to begin trespassing at their own border with Nepal at this time.

However, these reports being leaked to the public are bound to cause strain on this relationship. A task force sent to Humla claims sightings of buildings being built by China on the Nepalese side of the border — although this turned out to not be the case. In addition, the report included restrictions of religious practice by the Chinese in Lalungjong near the Hindu and Buddhist holy site of Mount Kailash, limitations to grazing by farmers’ livestock, and the construction of a fence, canal and border on the Nepalese side of the border.

All things considered, it doesn’t seem that there is enough reason to believe quite yet that China truly is encroaching on Nepalese territory, due to the nature of the report being unpublished and some of the claims turning out to be false. The Chinese embassy has gone on record saying, “There is no dispute at all. It is hoped that the Nepali people [will] not be misled with false individual reports.” With everything going on with the Russian-Ukrainian border, it is only natural to be a little on edge regarding other border disputes, especially between countries with opposing political ideologies. However, it makes no sense at this time for China to encroach on their ally considering border conflicts with India. It seems safe to say at this time that the reports are likely false or unconfirmed, and that more information needs to be made public to really understand what is going on between Nepal and China.

Post Author: Logan Guthrie