China’s salami-slice strategy on Nepal’s northern border has resulted in the encroachment of 36 hectares of Nepal’s land at 10 places on the northern border by China.
According to the survey document issued by the Ministry of Agriculture, China encroached on 36 hectares of Nepal’s land at 10 places on the northern border. Similarly, the study conducted by the Ministry of Home Affairs has concluded that it is necessary to include border issues in the “state policy” of Nepal, reported Meta Khabar.
However, the world community and the Nepalis themselves are probably unaware of the magnitude of the problem.
China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) built a veterinary centre for animal husbandry in 2016, located in a Nepal district, but Nepal has not responded to this.
In a February 2022 report by the UK-based media, China accused Nepal of encroaching on shared borders. According to the publication, based on official documents, China has started efforts to build canals and roads around the border post in the far western Humla district of Nepal.
China was also accused of “surveillance activities in the Lalungzong border area, the Chinese border next to Nepal,” reported Media Dabali.
Recent reports have revealed that not only Nepalese farmers are facing restrictions on livestock grazing, but also the ban on ‘Hindu and Buddhist shrines’ in the border area has been imposed by China.
The scale of Chinese encroachment is such that more than seven of the 15 districts of Nepal bordering China are facing Chinese land encroachment including Dolakha, Gorkha, Darchula, Humla, Sindhupalchok, Sankhuwasa and Rasuwa districts, reported Meta Khabar.
Villages in Darchula and Gorkha have also been taken over by China, the latest example being Rui village. In September 2020, China also built eleven structures on the remote border of the Humla district.
The pillars of this district were found to have been demolished and moved by China. The then government of Nepal assigned the Ministry of Home Affairs to study the situation in the Humla district.
According to The Kathmandu Post, the study committee led by Joint Secretary Jayanarayan Acharas submitted a report to the Home Minister in the last week of September 2021.
The study has made some recommendations of a strategic nature related to the status of the border pillar, while the government has made strategic recommendations that the border dispute should be included in the state policy and find an early solution – long and short and to study China built structures and roads inside Nepali land.
This is not the first incident of Chinese land encroachment and interference in Nepali land. In 2009, PLA troops “entered [an] unprotected district and built a veterinary centre”. According to the Himalayan Times, in 2017 the Ministry of Agriculture released a survey document which “shows that China has encroached 36 hectares of Nepal at 10 locations along the northern border”. In the same report, in 2016, China claimed to have built many buildings in Nepal.
In 2020, an investigation conducted by the British newspaper found that China has occupied 150 hectares of Nepalese land in five districts including Humla.
Humla MP Chakka Bahadur Lama expressed his concern about the observation saying that ’11 column is missing’.
In September 2020, there was a protest in front of the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu regarding the illegal construction of 9-11 houses in Nepal’s Humla district.
Although the report indicates that Nepal’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has raised the issue of encroachment with the Chinese, the general view is that Nepal’s diplomatic silence is maintained.
This silence has been continuously maintained not only by the leadership of the Chinese Friendly Communist Party in Nepal but also by the leadership of the Nepali Congress (the current government led by Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba), reported Media Dabali.
The Nepalese government’s silence on this matter will not only sideline the parliament, but it will be difficult to convince the people that the country’s northern border is safe.
Moreover, suppressing China’s criticism further encourages Nepal’s northern neighbour to continue its expansionist plans. China has claimed alleged violations of Nepal’s geographical integrity by promoting the false narrative that Nepal has no territorial issues with China but only with India, reported Meta Khabar.
“Acquiring de facto control” and increasing its control over the border. China’s incursion into Nepal ‘fits into a broader pattern of Chinese encroachment into neighbouring Bhutan and Indian territory,’ reported Media Dabali.
As a result, China’s border activities are a threat to the northern border of Nepal. Due to the negative impact on the cultural and religious traditions of the country, but also on the local economy, Nepal needs to resolve the border dispute with China as soon as possible.