A vehicle driving along a track in Korala near the Nepal-China border in Upper Mustang.

Nepal and China on Thursday agreed to carry out a joint inspection of the border through mutual consultation. 

Lok Bahadur Thapa, Head of North East Asia Division, Nepal Foreign Ministry, and Hong Liang, Director General of the Department of Border and Ocean Affairs of the Chinese Foreign Ministry leading delegations held a virtual consultation meeting on border affairs. 

As per the Nepalese Foreign Ministry, the meeting took stock of the overall state of Nepal-China relations and held a discussion on various matters relating to boundary and border management between the two countries.

“Underscoring the importance of joint inspection of Nepal-China boundary, the two sides agreed to initiate the process for activating the existing bilateral mechanism through mutual consultation,” said the Foreign Ministry of Nepal in a statement. 

This comes after a committee formed by Nepal’s Ministry of Home Affairs came up with a report highlighting issues along the border between two countries in the Humla district. 

The report was commissioned last September following claims that China has been trespassing in the district of Humla, in the far west of Nepal. 

The First Nepal-China Border Joint Inspection Committee was formed in May 1977 and was completed in 1979 and the Boundary Protocol was signed for the second time. 

As per the decision to conduct joint border inspections every ten years, the second was carried out in 1989. 

The third Joint Inspection was carried out in 2006 and there hasn’t been one since.

“To find a permanent solution to this, the border issue should be included in Nepal’s state policy. Such sensitive and bilateral matters related to the border need to be addressed through a permanent mechanism. Still, it is found that no such initiative has been taken,” the report by the committee stated. 

The report outlined a series of issues along the border by the Chinese side including that of a missing border pillar, wiring and fencing of the border pillar and restrictions imposed on Nepalese locals by the Chinese authorities. 

In the virtual consultation meeting on border affairs, officials from both sides agreed to resume two-way trade through Rasuwagadhi/Keyrung border port, following COVID-19 health protocol and guidelines. 

The trade between the two countries is suspended since the COVID-19 pandemic, severely affecting the traders and business people in the Himalayan nation. 

With a view to supporting the livelihood of people in the northern Himalayan region of Nepal, the two sides decided to open Hilsa/Purang border port for transportation of goods and construction materials from China, by putting in place necessary COVID-19 health protocol and guidelines.

The development comes just a day after Liu Jianchao, Head of the International Liaison Department of the Chinese Communist Party paid a four-day visit to Kathmandu, and met key leaders of all political parties including Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba.