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China encroaches along Nepal border

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A Nepalese government report leaked to the BBC accuses China of encroaching on Nepal along the two countries’ common border.

This is the first time that Nepal has officially claimed Chinese interference in its territory.

The report was commissioned last September following allegations that China entered Nepal’s far western Humla district.

The Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu denies any encroachment.

The Nepalese government has yet to respond to questions from the BBC.

It is unclear why the report has not yet been released. But the Nepalese government has in recent years improved its relations with China to balance its longstanding relationship with India, its giant neighbor to the south.

The report’s findings are likely to put pressure on these growing ties with Beijing.

The border between Nepal and China stretches nearly 1,400 km (870 miles) along the Himalayan mountains. It was defined 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 border is delimited by a chain of pillars, spaced several kilometers apart.

This sometimes makes it difficult to know exactly where the border is.

The Nepalese government decided to send a task force to Humla after reports of possible Chinese encroachment. Some have claimed that China has constructed a series of buildings on the Nepalese side of the border.

The team was made up of police and government officials.

In its report, transmitted to the BBC, the group found that surveillance activities by Chinese security forces had limited religious activities on the Nepalese side of the border in a place called Lalungjong.

The area traditionally attracts pilgrims due to its proximity to Mount Kailash, just across the border from China, which is a holy site for Hindus and Buddhists.

The report also concluded that China had restricted grazing by Nepalese farmers.

In the same area, he discovered that China was building a fence around a border pillar and trying to build a canal and a road on the Nepal side of the border.

But the task force found that the Chinese buildings originally thought to have been built inside Nepal were actually built on the Chinese side of the border.

Investigators found that local Nepalese were often reluctant to talk about border issues because some of them depended on continued access to Chinese markets across the border.

The report recommended that Nepalese security forces be stationed in the area to ensure security.

He also suggested that Nepal and China reactivate an inactive mechanism set up to resolve such kind of border issues.

Budhhi Narayan Shrestha, a prominent cartographer and former head of Nepal’s surveying department, said people living near the border should know exactly where it is so they can better protect Nepalese territory.

As China denies any encroachment, it is unclear what its motives might be for asserting control of its border with Nepal, but security might be one reason.

Historically, there was some unofficial cross-border traffic, including pilgrims and traders, but China has gradually restricted this movement.

Vijay Kant Karna, a former Nepali diplomat who now works at a think tank in Kathmandu, said Beijing may be worried about India, its regional rival with whom it has its own border issues.

“It looks like they are concerned about the infiltration of outside forces, so they want to disconnect relations across the border,” he said.

China could also be worried about a move 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 Beijing’s crackdown.

About 20,000 Tibetan refugees live in Nepal; others passed on their way to India and elsewhere.

In recent years, China has attempted to close this loophole.

There have been reports of Chinese encroachment in Nepal over the past two years, leading to occasional protests in Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu. The latest demonstration took place last month.

In response, the Chinese Embassy in Nepal issued a statement in January saying, “There is no dispute. We hope that the people of Nepal [will] not to be misled by false individual reports.”

The embassy, ​​however, did not respond to the BBC about the specific allegations set out in the unpublished report.

The Nepalese government is believed to have addressed the border issue with Beijing – but it is not saying what China said in response.