India evaluating if Oli government of Nepal gifted territory to China

New Delhi: India is evaluating strategic implications following China’s decision to occupy parts of Nepal’s territory amid Ladakh faceoff.
New Delhi is evaluating the exact location of the Chinese encroachment in Nepal and its proximity to the Indian border and whether the move was made in connivance with a section of the political leadership in Kathmandu or by taking the KP Sharma Oli OIi government for a ride, ET has learned.

In either case, it can further complicate India-China relations amid Beijing’s strategy to encroach upon its neigbours’ territory and creating security challenges.

Nepal watchers here feel it is time for the country’s top leadership, including PM Oli, to realise the futility of a tighter embrace with China. According to them, Oli’s closeness with Beijing as part of his attempts to save his chair has cast a shadow on Nepal-India ties.

India-China-Nepal share a tri-junction border point. In 1954, both India and China agreed to allow Indian Mansarovar-Kailash pilgrims to use the Lipulekh Pass. After the Chinese annexation of Tibet in the 1950s, Nepal allowed India to put up 17 military checkpoints along its northern border. A joint communiqué in 2015 between PM Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing listed Lipulekh as one of the Sino-Indian border passes through which the two countries agreed to conduct trade.

Meanwhile, China is using increased road construction in Tibet to encroach on Nepali land and may set up border outposts in these areas, according to a Nepal government report. Nepal agriculture ministry’s Survey Department report shows a list of 11 places, of which China has encroached upon 10 places comprising about 33 hectares of Nepali land, by diverting the flow of rivers which act as a natural boundary.

China is widely expanding its road network in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) “because of which some rivers and its tributaries have changed their course and are flowing towards Nepal. The flow of rivers is gradually receding the Nepalese territories and if it continues to remain so for some more time, it would cede the maximum portion of Nepal’s land towards TAR,” according to the document.

Chinese road construction in Tibet has also diverted the flow of Sumjung, Kam Khola and Arun rivers of the Sankhuwasabha district resulting in the encroachment on nine hectares of Nepali land. The document has warned that Nepal would lose more lands if proper steps are not taken.

According to Nepal watchers, one of China’s key objectives is to create a buffer zone between TAR and Nepal to suppress the Tibetan movement. “If the receding of land by rivers continues, then hundreds of hectares naturally go towards TAR. There is a high possibility that over a period of time, China may develop Border Observation Post (BOP) of its armed police in those territories,” according to the Nepal government document.

After the survey in the 1960s and erection of pillars to determine the boundary with China, Nepal has not initiated any further steps to secure its border. A total of 100 pillars were erected on the northern side of the border with China. While with India, the number of pillars stands at 8,553.

Some of China’s neighbours, besides Australia, have witnessed aggression recently. China has had standoffs with Vietnam and Malaysia in the South China Sea, pressured Taiwan with night-time drills in Taiwan Strait and threatened Australia with the boycott of wine, beef, barley, and Chinese students. Beijing has also brought in a new law — Hong Kong Security law — to increase its control on the semi-autonomous city despite strong protests.

With inputs from The Economic Times