At the moment, Nepal is pulling out all stops to restore its sovereignty on Kalapani, Lipulek and Limpiyadhura located in far western frontier of the country. India has occupied these territories since early 1960s. Nepali people, government and political parties have showed strong unity and solidarity to get back the infringed land. In order to divert the matter, some media outlets and persons disseminated misleading information that northern neighbour, China, has also encroached upon Nepali territories in several places. The news received wide coverage in domestic and international media but it turned out fake and biased. The media houses that printed the news story without contacting the credible sources have begged apology for misleading the readers. Some lawmakers from main opposition Nepali Congress even rushed to register a resolution proposal in the parliament demanding the return of Nepali territory from the northern neighbour. Now they came to their senses that they were running after baseless news and the ill-prepared motion went down the tube.
The other day, Minister for Foreign Affairs Pradeep Kumar Gyawali told the National Assembly that there was no border dispute between Nepal and China. Dismissing the media reports as baseless and ill-intended, Minister Gyawali said that the two nations had not faced any border problem since they signed the Boundary Treaty in 1961 after peacefully demarcating their border. As per the agreement, both the countries inspect the bilateral border in every 10 years. They had conducted first border inspection in 1979 and second in 1989. During their third joint border inspection in 2006, they found out the Border Pillar No 57 and 62. However, the Border Pillar No 37 and 38 could not be installed owing to the harsh geographical situation. Many media reports mentioned the missing of Pillar No 37 and 38 for lack of information. The prejudiced news on sensitive issues like border only harms the harmonious relations subsisting between the two neighbours. The government is investigating how such sponsored news was generated and published. Gyawali has rightly said that the media must verify the sources before printing the news stories related to foreign affairs and national security.
In order to avoid any potential border dispute, Nepal and China are working to implement the geographical information system (GIS). Gyawali said that they had to settle the tri-junction point among Nepal, China and India on the western rim. Nepal’s border with China starts from Pillar No 1 but it has been unable to set up Pillar No 0 because of the ongoing border dispute with India. It is a matter of satisfaction that Nepal and China have maintained 98 permanent border pillars. During Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Nepal last year, the two countries signed the Agreement on the Boundary Management System to strengthen cooperation and avoid any misunderstanding on the boundary affairs. Nepal and China are close neighbours guided by Panchsheel (five principles of peaceful coexistence). They have enhanced political trust, elevating the bilateral ties to the strategic level. Now Nepal is poised to promote connectivity, trade, economy and people-to-people exchanges between the two nations under the framework of Belt and Road Initiative. Against this backdrop, the two neighbours are able to deal border issues, if they happen, in the spirit of friendship and mutual understanding.