Is China Annexing the Mt Everest from Nepal?
China is known to be an expansionist State. It has already occupied many of its neighboring States in past that includes several…Tibet, East Turkmenistan (now Xinjiang), Inner Mongolia, Manchuria, Hong Kong and so on… (The Counterviews; Issue 2:13). Over the last few decades, the present Chinese leadership has been trying to fulfil the vision of Mau Tse Tung (Mao Zhedong) to expand the Chinese territories over five fingers of Ladakh, Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan and Arunachal. The present Indian Government is vehemently opposed to any further territorial expansionism of China. Meanwhile, Nepal has lost many of its territories adjoining Tibet to China and has also almost lost their sovereign rights to govern by own people and handed it over to the Chinese Ambassador to rule them. The recent Chinese versions on its hold on the Mount Everest is alarming and tries to look at their game plan.
Mt Everest has been the climbers ultimate wish to conquer. All climbers from the beginning of 20th century considered the Tibetan plateau as a natural route, but all their attempts were defeated by the nature till 1947. In 1950 the Tibetan route was closed after Chinese occupation. The other approach to the Mount Everest could have been through Nepal. It was considered to be a more accessible, comparatively easier approach, but the Nepalese govt did not allow the foreigners for mountaineering. There are some other infrequent routes to the Mt Everest summit too, occasionally adopted by various individuals and groups mostly through the Tibetan sides. The main two sides of the approaches through Nepal and Tibet as well as the other uncommon routes, are shown below: -
Nepal has been the other claimant of the Mt Everest all through. They opened the mountaineering in 1950 through their South approach, considered easier than the north reach. It provides the climbers with an easier gradual slopes and gradual acclimatization of the altitudes too right from the time the trek starts after the helicopter drop at Luckla. These treks through Namche bazar to the Nepalese Everest Base Camp at an altitude of 17,598 ft over nearly a week, provides enough opportunity to almost every trekker/climber to get fully acclimatized to the imposing altitudes.
In 1953, the summit was conquered by Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay for the first time and thereafter, it has been the much sought-after destination for the thousands of the climbers the world-over. There however, is an enormous difference the adventure elements of the climbing experience…with some breathtaking, life-time visuals of approach from the Nepal side.
The two pictures are each from a distant view (from Lhotse above) and the other a close-up view from Hilary point (below). Both are once in a lifetime views as seen below:-
Chinese did not want to be left behind. In 1960 they made an unsubstantiated claim of reaching the summit from Tibetan north ridge side. However, the wide gap at the ‘Second Step’ of that approach could be fixated only in 1975 when a 9-member Chinese delegation reached for the first time. It was believed to be extremely dangerous approach though. The Chinese however, opened the Mt Everest climbing to the outsiders in 1980 with the first successful summit climbing in August 80. Their Everest Base Camp (EBC) location at 17060 ft was an advantage for a better acclimatization. This encouraged the first ever ‘without-Oxygen’ successful summit climbing by Polish climbers Leszek Cichy and Krzysztof Wielicki in that year. Thereafter, the Chinese have upped their effort in Everest mountaineering. They built an all-weather Asphalt road from Lhasa to the EBC. Now the 4WD vehicles can reach right up to the EBC semi permanent hutments and tents. All these efforts have done two good to the Chinese…firstly it has made the EBC accessible to all, by road and secondly, made the shorter but dangerous North Ridge approach a bit safer. Now the ponnys and porters could be hired right till their advanced base camp. They fixed a permanent rope in their climb path beyond Advanced base camp over the vulnerable points. A look at the death among the climbers through North (Tibet) and South (Nepal) route to the summit shows a marked decrease after 2014. This has also made a sharp increase in the number and the ease of the climbers… sometime to a dangerous proportion of crowds…as can be seen in one of the attempt to scale the summit. It is often is too crowded and unsafe on any account. One gust of strong wind whch as such is higher on the north ridge approach, or on fixture of the rope giving way…could set a chain of failures to cause fall of the climbers from the narrow path with sure deaths. Any such misadventure by the Chinese organisers must be discouraged.
Taking the advantages of the infrastructure developed on the Tibet side of the EBC, the Chinese have taken lead in attracting the foreigners who surely wish to have better facilities…both from comfort and hygiene points of vews. A better access road as mentioned earlier, with picturesq views all along the journey (as seen opposite) taking the climbers/tourists right up the modern Base Camp (EBC) with almost 24x7 electricity through Solar panels, Solar heated water for bathing, a 5G telecom network & internet and other amenities…do attract many as compared to the Nepali route.
Here, from Kathmandu (Nepal), a journey to the Everest Base Camp is through a 30-40 minutes Helicopter flight from Kathmandu to Lukla. This limits the individual baggage carried to the base camp unlike the Tibetan side where one can carry all that is needed, by road, in their vehicles. Further there is then an overnight plan at Gorkhashep (that of course provides an opportunity to ascend Kalapatter 5,545m for more spectacular views of the surrounding mountains (Cho-Oyo 8153m, Makalu 8475m, Lhotse 8511m), The next day they arrive at the Everest base camp at the foot of the immensely impressive Khumbu icefall. The Nepali EBC as a result is more remote and inaccessible but more close to the nature. The Asphalt approach road on the Tibetan side have enabled the Chinese to bring in more infrastructure and machineries to construct some permanent and semi-permanent huts, dining and recreational areas too. There is a sharp difference in the look of the Nepalese and the Tibetan sides of the EBC as seen below: -
From the safety point of view, the Tibetan EBC is at the end of the Tibetan plateau…absolutely safe. However, the Nepalese side of the EBS is at the base of the unpredictable Khumbu icefall where recently, many climbers lost their lives because of an unusual avalanche.
Taking advantage of Covid19, Chinese have mentioned of demarcating its own portion of the Mt Everest peak where only the Chinese entourage will be permitted. Those conversant with the Mt Everest summit are fully aware of the crunch of space which barely of a length & width of a dining table. Under the best of the circumstances only a couple of climber can stand together with their backpacks. Now China intends to make a demarcation of its portion where the Nepalese entourage will not be permitted because of the Covid challenges. This is very strange and defies all logic. If a Chinese entourage of climber climbing from the side where the Wuhan Virus originated, could be declared free of Covid, why a Nepali Entourage of climbers tested negative, braving the extreme heights with the highest levels of fitness could be considered to be Covid free? It clearly seems to be a Chinese ploy to grab the Mt Everest Summit to put their complete claim.
The nearly 6x4 ft of the Mt Everest Summit area just cannot be divided in to Chinese portion & Nepali portion. The Nepali Govt being subordinate to the Chinese leadership has been silent on the proposal. It can be expected that they will make the Nepali govt to sign some coercive protocols to be followed. Initially the Chinese are expected to accommodate the climbers from Nepalese side too and later they will be tightening their grip…either free of cost in the initial years, to be followed by on some nominal fees…just to show as to who is in control. This levying of the fees could be at various pretexts of providing amenities at the summit…incl 5G internet access for a video capture…of course at a cost that every Summiteer will be asked to pay to the Chinese. That will be the end of the Nepali claims to the Everest Summit. Nepal will possibly control up to the Hillary Step or South Summit. That virtually means a silent coup or a smooth non-confrontational Chinese takeover of the Mount Everest with the Nepali Govt and citizen made a party to it.
There are already tell-tale signs to leading Chinese hold on Nepal. Firstly, The Nepalese govt is virtually being remote-controlled by Beijing. The Nepali Communist Govt is in no position to confront the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leadership with immense debt-trap and a gradual hold on to the leadership by the Chinese ambassador in Kathmandu. The present Chinese ambassador Ms Hou Yanqi virtually instructs the Nepali leadership as to what is required to be done and what not. There are rumours of her having honey-trapped the leadership with her sex appeals…something which have repeatedly found mention in many media…something that hardly any editor would have desired to publish.
Secondly, many part of Nepali territories…over seven of its districts adjoining Tibet, have already been occupied and claimed by the Chinese under their 5-finger expansionist agenda. Nepali districts which are victims of slowly encroaching China's land-grabbing plan, includes Dolakha, Gorkha, Darchula, Humla, Sindhupalchowk, Sankhuwasabha and Rasuwa. Most of the areas occupied in these districts are catchment areas of rivers, including Bhagdare river in Humla; Karnali, Sanjen and Lemde rivers in Rasuwa; Bhurjug, Kharane and Jambu rivers in Sindhupal chowk; Bhotekoshi and Samjug rivers in Sankhuwasabha; Kamkhola river and Arun river. There are reports that Chinese are diverting the waters of some of these rivers in to Tibet. It is said the rivers of a country are its lifelines, and China is slowly and surely cutting off the Nepali lifelines. The Nepali Leadership is in no position to confront the Chinese overtly and they have been told to avoid raising the issue and even more importantly, have been asked to discourage the Nepalese citizen talking about it. When the question was raised in their parliament following massive protests on the Nepali streets, the govt shamelessly informed that it had no report of it and it trying to find out the actual situation. Thereafter, there has been no words from the Govt.
Thirdly, the Nepalese economy is fully under the Chinese grip. The local Nepali business are slowly evaporating. Chinese imports are flooding their markets. Chinese are also trying to limit the Indian aid and goodwill projects in Nepal. The tourism industry that had earlier been booming, is slowly being grabbed by the Chinese. It is bizarre to find that the tourists visiting Nepal are now made to undertake Chinese tour packages under huge incentives to the operators. Instead of taking the visitors to the numerous Nepal locations of historical, religious, archeological importance as well as numerous breathtakingly picturesque and natural mountain site-seeing, they take them to Lhasa and their Himalayan plateau instead.
Tibet Side North Face Everest Panorama Tour Itinerary
Day 01: Arrival in Kathmandu, Transfer to Hotel
Day 02: Cultural Tours around KTM ValleyTour, Hotel
Day 03: Fly to Lhasa (3,650m) from Kathmandu(1,300m)
Day 04 - Day 05: Sight Seeing Tours in Lhasa (3,650m)
Day 06: Drive from Lhasa to Gyantse (3950m) & Xigatse
Day 07: Drive from Xigatse to Ronbuk (4980m) - 334km
Day 08: Drive from Ronbuk to Everest BC & back to Xigatse
Day 09: Drive from Xigatse to Lhasa (3600m) - 351km
Day 10: Fly back from Lhasa to Kathmandu, Transfer to Hotel
Day 11: Final Departure from Kathmandu for onward destination.
One may recall that earlier Mt Everest was purely a Nepalese venture with complete claim over the peak. China fist made it to share and now on its way to lay complete claim in the years to come. The process has already started in such a gradual and firm way that the Nepali Communist Govt will not be able to oppose them. The Chinese are believed to have purchased many leaders of opposition too. Hence, in the future, even if the govts change (apparently to the Nepalese Congress), the new govt too will be tremendously under the Chinese influence. Nepal in all probability will lose its identity, the Mt Everest, forever.