India and China: How Nepal’s new map is stirring old rivalries

The redrawing of the map covers a relatively small region high in the Himalayas but it has stirred simmering tensions between two of the world’s biggest powers, India and China.

In Nepal, which is sandwiched between the two, people have reacted angrily, protesting and accusing India of disregarding the country’s sovereignty.

In recent months a new Indian road on a strategic mountain pass fanned tensions, as did a revised map put out by Delhi showing disputed areas as belonging to India.

To top it off India and China are already locked in a military standoff in the northern Ladakh region of disputed Kashmir, where their troops have been facing off for weeks.

Media and some officials in India have accused China of instigating the changes to Nepal’s map, a charge to which China has not responded.

What triggered the row?

Nepal and India share an open border of about 1,880 km (1,168 miles). The two countries have finalised maps covering 98% of the boundary, but the Lipulekh pass, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura in western Nepal are among the areas that remain contested.

Together, the three areas cover about 370 sq km (140 square miles), Nepalese officials say. The strategic Lipulekh pass connects the Indian state of Uttarakhand with the Tibet region of China.

Nepal and China have been angered by India’s recent moves. Delhi’s published its new map of the border region in November, after it divided Indian-administered Kashmir into Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. The map incorporated some of the territories disputed with Nepal inside India’s borders.

“We all agree that international boundary between two countries is defined by bilateral treaties. Any unilateral type of action cannot establish any legitimate claim of their presence,” Pradeep Gyawali, Nepal’s foreign minister, told the BBC.

Mr Gyawali said there was no other agreement beside the 1816 Sugauli treaty that defined the western border of Nepal with India, and that treaty clearly states that the three areas belong to Nepal.

In retaliation, Nepal published its revised map last month showing the disputed areas within Nepal, infuriating India in return.

“We urge the government of Nepal to refrain from unjustified cartographic assertion and respect India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the Indian foreign ministry said in a statement.

The amendment to replace the map is expected to be passed in Nepal’s parliament this week.

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Source: BBC