Kathmandu mayor cancels trip after new Chinese 'controversial map’ opposes national territorial claims

After China’s new map protested against India, Nepal is a bit confused and wary because the map does not show the areas under the Indian border claimed by Kathmandu through its mapping efforts.

On August 28, 2023, the People’s Republic of China released the 2023 version of the map, which continued to show Arunachal Pradesh and Aksai Chin’s borders, and when political opposition raised a pitch, the Ministry of External Affairs said strongly. Struggle against China.

The new Chinese map drew attention to Kathmandu, which did not include areas like Libulek, Kalabani and Limbiathura, which are in the shape of a sharp spur and were incorporated into the Nepal map in 2020.

After Nepal released the map, India called it an unjustified cartographic assertion and did not discuss the matter bilaterally. The Chinese map has sparked some strong opposition and reaction in Nepal. Kathmandu Mayor Balen Shah canceled his trip to China.

A statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Nepal

Nepalese foreign ministry spokesperson Sewa Lamsal issued a cautious statement that did not directly condemn Beijing. It said, “Nepal is firmly and clearly on its political and administrative map in 2020 unanimously approved by the Nepali Parliament. The Government of Nepal undoubtedly believes that this map should be respected by our neighbors and the international community. On September 1, 2023, the spokesperson said that Nepal is committed to resolving the border issues through negotiations and diplomacy.

It is not surprising that Beijing did not recognize those areas as Nepalese territory as Lipulekh was an officially recognized trading post between India and China.

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Nepali Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal (Prasanda), who is scheduled to visit Beijing this month to lead a delegation to the Asian Games, has yet to make a personal statement.

Apart from India, Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines have also expressed their opposition to the controversial Chinese map.

Mayor’s comments

On social media, Mayor Shah expressed his grievances, saying, „Nepal introduced a new map with Libulek, Limbiathura and Kalabani. However, the Chinese Ministry of Natural Resources recently released a map of Nepal, missing these areas, sticking to the previous map.

We consider this as a violation of sovereignty as it portrays Nepal as part of India without any consultation with Nepal. As a result, today I have made the ethical choice to cancel my five-day trip to China, which has been extended out of respect.

Balan’s visit to China

Initially, Balen was preparing for a five-day trip to China, which was dispatched by the Chinese authorities. However, he canceled the expedition citing ethical reasons, the basis of which was the Chinese acceptance of the old map in its official map, while retaining Nepal’s new map, which included areas such as Libulek, Limbiathura and Kalabani.

Dispute

Kalabani is a valley administered by India as part of Pithoragarh district in the Indian state of Uttarakhand. It is located on the Kailash Mansarovar route. After the Anglo-Nepalese War of 1816, the British and the King of Nepal signed a treaty at Sugauli. The Kali River designated the western borders of Nepal.

The Kali River in the Kalabani region defines the border between India and Nepal. Nepal believes that the Kali River originates from Limbiathura, northwest of Lipulekh. Libulek was removed from the map of the country by the kings to get concessions from India.

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After the 1962 India-China War, the territory of Kalapani was given to India by King Mahendra, who wanted to help India’s security concerns due to lingering Chinese threats.

Kalabani is not part of the Nepal-India dispute. The king had allowed India to use the territory of Nepal temporarily. Nineteenth century administrative and revenue records show that Kalabani was on the Indian side and counted as part of Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand state.

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