China’s claim to Nepali territory in its north-western district should be seen as part of its larger strategy to encircle India and pre-empt New Delhi from taking any unilateral action in the northern region, especially in the Pakistan-occupied areas of the Indian territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
There has never been a dull moment in the history of the Himalayas since the time tribes started traversing the treacherous pathways for livelihood, trade and wars. While the cultural linkages of the Nepali region with India and its people are as old as the mountains, the new entrant, Beijing, doesn’t enjoy any such association, nor does it have the legitimacy to its claim on any part of the geography here.
After China’s sustained attempt to encircle India with String of Pearls in the Indian Ocean, the recent land grab in the Himalayas by Beijing should be interpreted as a string of infrastructure projects — railway stations and border trade centres in the hills — specifically aimed at encroaching India’s immediate neighbourhood.
Beijing’s land grab in Nepal
According to media reports from Kathmandu, China has occupied land in about 11 places in four districts of Nepal, all along the Nepal-Tibet border. The residents of Rui village in Gorkha district were agitating for identity document from Nepali authorities when they were, reportedly, presented with Chinese documents.
Another media report says that China has occupied six hectares of land near Bhagdare Khola (river) area and substantial land in a relatively less inhabited Liho area in Karnali in Humla district. Besides, there are reports that Chinese soldiers are camping in Sinjen Khola and Bhurjuk Khola in Rasuwa district.
China has also occupied substantial land in Kharane, Sindhu Pal, Samjung and Arun river bed in the north-eastern district of Sankhuwasabha — famous for its cardamom farming and ancient Shiva Temple. Its proximity to Doklam Valley and Siliguri corridor makes it an extremely strategic area and a potential threat to India’s security.