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China and Nepal finally agree on Mount Everest height
In a sign of their increasingly close ties, China and Nepal have agreed at last on the height of Mount Everest, after more than a decade of disagreement and dispute. Earlier this month, the two countries made a joint announcement regarding the new measure of the world's highest peak, which sits at Nepal's border with China in the Himalayas. A recent statement declared that Everest is currently standing at 8,848.86 meters or about 29,032 feet. In the aftermath of a dreadful 2015 earthquake, geologists speculated that several Himalayan peaks, including Mount Everest, have possibly shrunk. However, the new measurement is nearly a meter higher than the formerly accepted altitude.
The announcement made international headlines as it marks an end to the long-running debate over the mountain's actual height. In the 19th century, Sir George Everest, the colonial-era British surveyor, initially proclaimed the peak at 8,840.07 meters or about 29,003 feet. The Himalaya's highest point was thus named after him at the behest of the Royal Geographical Society. Interestingly, Sir Everest had never actually seen the mountain himself. He was, though, responsible for hiring Andrew Scott Waugh, who made the first formal observations of the mountain, and Radhanath Sikdar, an Indian mathematician who calculated its height. Over the years, the United States, Italy, and Denmark had put forward varying estimates of the mountain's height. Nevertheless, Nepal has been rejecting them all and abstained from using the peak's colonial-era name. Instead, they accepted the figure of 8,848 meters, which was assessed by the 1954 Indian survey. As this survey had even included snow top of the rock summit, many other countries saw it as the official height for a long time.
In 2005, a Chinese survey of Everest estimated that it rises at around 8,844 meters (about 29,015 feet). As the research was not authorized by Nepal, the country likewise refused to recognize it as the official height. Then, in 2015, multiple scientific studies suggested the mountain's elevation may have changed after the Gorkha earthquake in Nepal, which claimed the lives of nearly 9,000 people and injured over 22,000. Two years later, the Nepali government announced the grand plan of conducting its very first mission of evaluating the height of Mount Everest. As a gesture of goodwill, India immediately offered its help on the task. To protect its national pride, Nepal, which is home to another seven of the world's 14 highest peaks, replied that its specialists were more than capable of measuring the mountain on their own.
Prior to climbing to the summit, four Nepalese land surveyors have trained for almost two years for the mission. Finally, in May of 2019, Nepal sent its first team to measure Mount Everest. During a state visit to Nepal in October of that year, President Xi Jinping proposed the idea of jointly announcing the new height of Everest, calling the peak "an eternal symbol of the friendship between Nepal and China." Nepal initially declined the offer from China but eventually agreed to make it a joint project. Last spring, China began the measurement of the mountain from its Tibetan side by sending an eight-member team to carry out the survey. They become the only team to reach the top in 2020 as the mountain was closed by both Nepal and China for climbers due to the covid-19 pandemic. Since May, the two sides have been examining their findings.
During a virtual press conference, in which the two countries formally announced the new height of Everest, China's foreign minister, Wang Yi, addressed the mountain by its Tibetan name Qomolangma – probably to show its disapproval of the colonial-era name. Similarly, Nepal's foreign minister, Mr. Gyawali, referred to it as Sagarmatha, its Nepali name. Mr. Gyawali told the press, "The China-Nepal relationship will rise across the Himalayas, and it will reach a new height." Susheel Dangol, Deputy Director General at Nepal's Department of Survey, stated, "The project was a matter of national pride for Nepal and a prestigious undertaking for the Nepali government. I feel very proud that we were able to complete it successfully."
The new height was determined by using a combination of geodetic data received from three mechanisms: leveling instrument, gravity meter, and GPS. The teams placed a signal receiver at every station and measured how much time it took for signals to travel between the receiver and satellites — then converted that measurement into height. Nepal and China jointly processed the surveyed data and came up with the result. Although the new measure has a little practical impact, as the world's second-highest mountain K2 is roughly 237 meters lower, it can potentially serve the political purposes of Beijing. In 1960, China and Nepal signed the Sino-Nepalese Treaty of Peace and Friendship to officially ratify the border separating the two countries. At the time, critics felt that the treaty was a means for China to exert its image as a benevolent nation following the 1959 Tibetan Uprising, which resulted in the deaths of 87,000 Tibetans. Regardless, the last five decades have seen relatively friendly diplomacy between Nepal and China. Sadly, in September, reports emerged that China was constructing buildings on the Nepali land in Limi of Humla. The reports caused widespread protests outside the Chinese embassy in Kathmandu. In November, China's defense minister General Wei Fenghe met the Prime Minister of Nepal to discuss issues. The agreement on the new height of Everest in the wake of the tensions can establish a diplomatic buffer between the two nations.
In 2020, China's relations with its Himalayan neighbors have not been so warm. In June, conflicts with India resurfaced when unarmed troops from both countries clashed in the border area, which each side claim as their own, killing 20 Indian soldiers and an undisclosed number of Chinese combatants. China was also recently accused of building a village in a territory claimed by the Kingdom of Bhutan. As regional tensions intensify, Beijing seems to have picked Nepal as its ally. China has long seen Nepal as key to its Belt and Road Initiative, which envisions highways, railroads, and other infrastructures built with Chinese financing across the ancient Silk Road routes that connected China to the West.
NEPAL LUXURIOUS TREKKING | NEPAL PRIVATE TOUR
Enjoy luxurious trekking through the foot of the mighty Annapurna on this Nepal private tour. Track wildlife in Chitwan Nature Reserve and join the crowds as they take to Kathmandu's bustling streets to celebrate the annual Indra Jatra Festival. This trip is a fantastic opportunity for those looking to experience mild trekking in Nepal, or for families wanting to spend time trekking together while enjoying some of the coziest lodging facilities Nepal has to offer.View Tour