China urged to use Nepal’s official mapKathmandu mayor cancels visit in protest. Government to communicate with China before making its stance public.
Calls are growing from different quarters urging the government to request China for a map revision, after a new map released by the northern neighbour on Monday did not show the Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura areas inside Nepal.
Nepal’s new map issued in May 2020 had included the three areas, which are currently under Indian control. Nepal government had issued the new map after India a few months earlier released its own map by including the areas.
On Thursday, Kathmandu Mayor Balen Shah announced on social media that he had cancelled his scheduled five-day China visit, which was starting Thursday, to protest the Chinese decision to “show the Nepali territories inside India.”
The new Chinese map released on Monday night has included India’s Arunachal Pradesh and the disputed Aksai Chin area inside China. The map also shows the territories bordering China, but the pointed spur of the Nepal map is notably absent.
Beijing’s decision to use the old Nepal map has left many in Kathmandu surprised.
The government has, meanwhile, said it will register its concerns with China through diplomatic channels. On Wednesday evening, speaking at a press conference organised at the Ministry for Information and Communications to make public the Cabinet’s decisions, Minister for Information and Communication Rekha Sharma, who is also the government spokesperson, said the government would make its position public after discussing the map with the Chinese government.
“We will employ diplomacy to resolve the matter. Our official map has a pointed spur and it was endorsed unanimously by Parliament. We will ask them why they refrained from using our new map,” minister Sharma said.
After India unilaterally released a new political map in November 2019 by incorporating Kalapani, Lipulekh, and Limpiyadhura areas, which are claimed by Nepal, and refused to entertain Nepal’s concerns over the map, the then government led by UML chief KP Sharma Oli, in a tit-for-tat move, unveiled the new map of Nepal in May 2020 by incorporating the three areas. This added a pointed spur on the northwest corner of the Nepal map.
“Our friendly neighbour China has undermined the map that was ratified by the sovereign parliament of Nepal. We objected to the move. We urge those concerned to study history and rectify the map immediately,” Biraj Bhakta Shrestha, a lawmaker from the Rastriya Swatantra Party, posted on the social media platform X (formerly Twitter).
Earlier in the day, Mayor Shah had taken to social media to register his protest against the map.
“I consider China’s step to show Nepali territory as that of India as wrong,” said Shah on Facebook and X. “So, I have decided not to embark on a five-day visit at China’s invitation on moral grounds.”
Leaders and members from various political parties have also criticised the Chinese decision to use Nepal’s old map.
A senior foreign ministry official said they are closely following the unfolding situation on the map row, but they would not rush to make the government stance public.
“The map row has surfaced right ahead of Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal’s scheduled China visit, so we are not in a position to escalate the matter, but we will definitely follow up on it after ascertaining whether the then Oli government had communicated with China before releasing the new map,” the official said.
Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal is visiting China from September 22, but an official announcement is yet to be made.
Similarly, the Nepal Students’ Union, the student wing of the ruling Nepali Congress, on Thursday staged a protest outside the Embassy of China in Kathmandu accusing the northern neighbour of failing to recognise Nepal’s actual territories in its new map.
Student leaders carrying placards chanted slogans demanding the northern neighbour correct its map. They also submitted a memorandum to the embassy calling for an immediate rectification of the new map. The protesters were briefly detained by police.