UK daily says China annexed over 150 hectares of Nepal’s territory; Beijing dismisses it as ‘rumour’
China has annexed over 150 hectares of Nepal’s territory, according to a leading British daily whose report was rejected by the Chinese Foreign Ministry on Tuesday as a “completely unfounded rumour”.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin’s remarks came after The Telegraph quoting Nepalese politicians reported that China has annexed more than 150 hectares of land in five areas near the border, including by diverting the flow of a river to claim the previously submerged land.
Reacting to the news report, Wang said: “I want to point out that the report is a completely unfounded rumour”.
Pressed further to provide evidence to back his denial, Wang said, “as this is a rumour, those who have compiled this report should come up with their evidence first”.
When pointed out by The Telegraph reporter “we do have evidence. We have spoken with Nepalese politicians who have said this. We would like the Chinese side to comment”, Wang said the content should have been verified before reporting it.
“My suggestion is, before making such a report, you should act responsibly to verify things and then report on this. I can say that this report is a completely unfounded rumour,” Wang said.
The Telegraph reporter said, “we did reach out to the Chinese Embassy in Nepal for comment, but they didn’t respond. So that’s why we are here today. We are hoping that the MOFA (the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) would please respond”.
Wang replied saying that “I have an accurate and clear answer for you, that report is not based on fact. It is a pure rumour”.
The Telegraph’s report said that China allegedly began seizing Nepalese land in five frontier districts in May, sending members of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) across undefended areas of the border.
“In the north-western district of Humla, PLA (People’s Liberation Army) troops crossed the border into the Limi Valley and Hilsa, moving stone pillars which had previously demarcated the boundary further into Nepalese territory before constructing alleged military bases. The Daily Telegraph has seen images of the bases”, it said.
“Further annexations occurred in the Rasuwa, Sindhupalchowk and Sankuwasabha districts after Chinese engineers in the Tibet Autonomous Region diverted the flow of rivers acting as a natural boundary and claimed the previously submerged Nepalese territory”, it said.
“Why should China come over into Nepal, when China is already sixty times the size of our small country?” the report quoted Jeevan Bahadur Shahi, a lawmaker in the Nepali Congress Party, as saying.
The alleged land-grabs in Humla appear to have been motivated by the strategic view the district’s mountain peaks offer over the Himalayas, the report quoted the Nepalese politicians as saying.
“In 2009, Chinese troops first crossed over into the undefended district and constructed a veterinary centre for livestock. When Shahi objected, he was told by the Nepalese government the building would have a positive impact on the livelihoods of impoverished local residents who typically make a living by herding yak and goats,” it said.
“He (Shahi) says he received telephone calls from local villagers in June, reporting stone pillars marking the undefended border had been moved further inside Nepalese territory in the Limi Valley by Chinese troops,” it said.