Kathmandu’s Mayor, Balendra Shah, popularly known as Balen, has made headlines once again, this time for postponing his planned visit to China in protest against China’s recent map release. The controversy revolves around China’s omission of certain regions claimed by Nepal, a move that has stirred discussions on social media and raised concerns about sovereignty.
Mayor Shah expressed his strong disapproval of China’s actions on social media, stating, “Nepal introduced a fresh map featuring Lipulek, Limpiyadhura, and Kalapani. Yet, China’s Ministry of Natural Resources recently unveiled a map of Nepal devoid of these regions, adhering to the prior map. We consider this a breach of our sovereignty, as it depicts Nepali territory as part of India without any consultation with Nepal. Consequently, I have made the ethical choice today to cancel my five-day visit to China, which was extended as a courtesy.”
Originally, Mayor Balen had been preparing for a five-day visit to China, following an invitation from Chinese authorities. However, he abruptly canceled his trip, citing ethical concerns. The core of his decision lies in China’s acknowledgment of the old map on its official map, while Nepal has officially adopted a new map that includes regions like Lipulek, Limpiyadhura, and Kalapani.
Balen Shah has consistently been in the spotlight for various reasons. Initially known as a rapper, he gained significant support in the 2022 local elections in Nepal, propelling him to the position of Mayor of Kathmandu.
In a separate incident related to maps, he staged a symbolic protest by displaying a map of Nepal that incorporated regions extending from West Bengal to Uttarakhand, areas historically disputed with India, in his office.
However, recent protests have erupted against Mayor Shah and his team due to the demolition of street vendor shops, resulting in the loss of livelihoods for many. This action has generated substantial criticism from civil society.
Mayor Shah is also known for his ban on Hindi movies in Kathmandu’s multiplexes, citing concerns over the depiction of Sita’s birthplace in India in the movie “Adipurush.”