Nepal and China jointly declare new height of Mt Everest as a matter of national importance

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Mt Everest seen from the Tibet side. (Photo courtesy: Tibet Travel)

(TibetanReview.net, Dec09’20) – After more than a decade of dispute and controversy, and seven rounds of discussions over the past three months, China and Nepal have finally agreed that Mount Everest now measures a bit higher than what both had calculated in recent years. No, the dispute was definitely not over whether Mount Everest straddles the Nepal-Tibet or Nepal-China border. Rather, it was over who gets to measure and declare the height.

The two countries have now jointly and amicably declared that the height of the world’s highest peak is 8848.86 metres (about 29,032 feet) above sea level.

The height of Mount Everest was first measured to be 8848 metres above sea level in 1954 by the Survey of India and this became the global norm.

For Nepal, declaring its own measurement of the height was a matter of national pride. “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,” edition.cnn.com Dec 8 quoted Susheel Dangol, Deputy Director General at Nepal’s Department of Survey, as saying.

For China, it was a bit more than that. Any declaration by it of the height of the world’s tallest peak by its own measurement would be based on the supposition that Tibet is part of China, a point Beijing never misses an opportunity to declare to the world. So, it would be one more stamp of claim over the territory of Tibet.

It was during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Nepal last year that the two countries agreed to jointly announce the new height, calling the peak “an eternal symbol of the friendship between Nepal and China.”

China started measuring from the Tibetan side of the mountain following Xi’s visit. It sent an eight-member team to carry out its own survey. Since then, the two sides have been analyzing their findings.

Now, Chinese President Xi Jinping, exchanging letters with his Nepali counterpart Bidya Devi Bhandari on Dec 8, gas called Mount Qomolangma “an important symbol of the China-Nepal traditional friendship,” reported China’s official Xinhua news agency Dec 9.

For more than a year, the two countries’ survey teams have overcome all kinds of difficulties, solidly carried out their work, and finally reached a conclusion on the snow height based on the International Height Reference System, the report quoted Xi as saying.

Qomolangma is the Chinese Pinyin rendition of the mountain’s Tibetan name “Jomolangma”. In Nepal, the mountain is called the Sagarmata.

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