Document Type: 
Document Number (FOIA) /ESDN (CREST): 
Release Decision: 
Original Classification: 
Document Page Count: 
Document Creation Date: 
December 22, 2016
Document Release Date: 
August 31, 2012
Sequence Number: 
Case Number: 
Content Type: 
PDF icon CIA-RDP08C01297R000200050001-6.pdf783.63 KB
Declassified and Approved For Release 2012/08/31 : CIA-RDP08CO1297R000200050001-6 ' The Mount Everest Controversy Between Nepal and China Mount Everest,' the highest peak in the world, lie, about the point of intersection between longitude 86.6 E. and latitude 27.59 N. on the i,tahriangur range of the Himalaya in the Kirat area of eastern Nepal (district East No.3). The Himalayan range which this peak crowns, is about three miles long. It has on its northern side the Tibetan area of "Chang". On its east is Lhotse (27,890 ft.) and on its west Nuptse (25,680 ft.). The peak is surrounded on all sides by glaciers: Rongbuk on the north, Kongmung on the east, Iinja on the south and Khu mbu on the west. The Thyangboche monastery (12,000 ft.) marks the highest point of human habitation on the south. Or: the north there is habitation as far high as the Rongbuk monastery 119,570 ft.). The local name of Mount, Everest is not clear. The Nepalese historian Babu Ram Acharya named it "Sagarmatha" ((head of skV) in 1938, and in Nepal it is known by that name. In Tobet its name is Chomo Lungma for Jolmo Lungma or Jhyamo Lungma). From 1921 to 1953--for three decades and more--as many as eleven expeditions had been organised. Eight of these were for the express purpose of getting on the peak; and the rest were for the purpose of finding out the route. The then Rana `rovernmeiit.of Nepal refused permission to these expeditions. All attempts, there- fore, except the attempts made in 1952 and 19,53, were undertaken from the -northern side and with the permission and blessings of the, Dalai Lan-.a. Nepal started giving permission only after 1949. A Chinese e_,: )edition led by Shin Chang-Chuin claimed to have ,ucce- ssfully an assault from the northern side in 1960. re t s named atier Sir George Everest, Who R'as Sun'e)' tic:; r.a of India a-:d undertook the surce)' of this regimn in 1850. Declassified and Approved For Release 2012/08/31 : CIA-RDP08CO1297R000200050001-6 - Declassified and Approved For Release 2012/08/31 CIA-RDP08CO1297R000200050001-6 The dispute about the Mount Everest arose in the course of boundary negotiations between Nepal and China, ",en'the Nepalese Prime Minister B.P. IKoirala was on a State visit to China in March 1960. The Chinese did not lay any specific claim to it, but their map sho-,ved not merely the Everest, but the entire Mahalangur range within five miles of the border.'- The Chinese case. was based on three grounds. (l) expeditions undertaken from the northern side were with the Tibetan permission. Nepal never objected to that. (2) Whereas the Tibetan name for Everest was Chomo Lung ma, Nepal had no name or in any case a recent one. (3) The Thy- angboche monaster, on the southern side of the watershed, was at one time under the religious jurisdiction of the Rongbu monastery, which as in Tibet. Obviously, the Chinese contention was mixing up the religious jurisdiction with territorial claiins. On learning the Chinese claim the Nepalese Prime Minister v. as ' ta`.:en aback" and firmly refused to entertain it.3 The Nepa- lese side argued, on the basis of geography, literature, scriptures and tradition. that the Everest belonged to there and they also had a name for it. The two Prime Ministers could not come to any agree- muent. The matter was raised by Koirala during his meeting with the Chinese leader Mao Tse-tung, who unilaterally suggested some sort of a joint ownership of the mountain. According to a Nepal correspondent. who had accompanied the Prime Minister on China visit, the Chinese insisted that expeditions to Mount Everest should be. joint!% authorized by them. To this the Nepa ese did not agree4. No agreement having reached. the two sides agreed to discuss it again during the forthcoming visit of the Chinese Premier to Nepal. The issue was kept out of the purview of the Joint Boundary Co- mmittee, which had been instituted to delineate and demarcate the Sino-Nepalese boundary. On his return to Kathmandu the Nepa ese Prime Minister disclosed the Chinese claims. The disclosure tivas deliberate. The 2. Asian Recorde 21-2~ May 1960 : 3330, 3. Ibid., 30 April : 6 May 1960 : 3294. 4. TheHindusdan, 5 April 1960. 5. Iiulpara (K2thrrandu), 4 April, 1960. Declassified and Approved For Release 2012/08/31 : CIA-RDP08CO1297R000200050001-6 Declassified and Approved For Release 2012/08/31 : CIA-RDP08CO1297R000200050001-6 150 S -U111 ASIAN STUDIES idea was to %w:hip up the Nepalese public opinion and impress China with strength of popt_':__armatha was placed n th > Nepalese territor\ as c_ear't" nisi megiil ocally as the Sa ar;riatha area on the basis of the t aditio;la~, customary border- If r.e1 he King also, on his ret_.:: fro:n C __na, chose to remain v tae. He c,bserved: ........ all the \epaiese :'. est;eriet ce a sense of glory when I State that on v. hich the eyes of the world seem to he focused, osuitinues to be cis it has been (emphasis added) our and wit'-:in our terr`ory.-, T`h.:: Nepalese Foreign Minister, T--1,i Giri, repeated that the peak of Everest lay inside Nepal. He aso added that China would in- Nepal c all expeditions from :ale nort h.=' Some news papers also agreed that the peak belonged to All these public declarations sere, perhaps, necessary to satisfy the public sentiment; and the Chinese :r_terestingiv (lid not contradict t} c.;:. It , ould appear that both :':rig Mahendra and the Chinese basad on F':.h important people by the a_.thor in -'\ ?- . _1cco;d.n, :o o nothir.; old b_ dacid(,d in regard :o Everest the visit t' the eve _. the sigof the Boundary Treaty. Ti , Chinese ,var.ted to sign .,_.::i,.)ni ;g anything about it, -;bile the lair:, insisted that he r;ouid _tge t};? :y Without settling the Everest iO;ue fi_:ally. Tire n: ght tang s ~.;vi on 4 ~J~toher ut.timately resulted in a seciet :xchauge of letters. (1;" 1r e U . os information Willits to remaiii anon .noi]S). 29. 1 pie Times (London), 10 Octo',er lOol. 26. N pali, op. cit. 27. P,-oclarnatio"s, Speeches, anti .'4?ssageS iA ::L iiir:nda, 'Ur) vol. 2 : cc. 2S. T rte Hindus:an Times, ` Qc:ob~r 196:. 29. ''_)-.'hapatra ( athnlar:du). 10 October, 1E," 1. Declassified and Approved For Release 2012/08/31: CIA-RDP08CO1297R000200050001-6 Declassified and Approved For Release 2012/08/31 : CIA-RDP08CO1297R000200050001-6 equally needed to co- e to terms on this problem. The King could not have cliir:bed down on this issue of Everest without damage to his image. Nor could be have done without a Boundary Treaty. The Chinese wanted Boundary agreement with Nepal in view of their dispute :;with I,-dia, but they did not want to give up the peal: entirely. Thus a co.,--promise was inevitable. What the Boundary Treaty states is not very clear. It seems that the peak has been, divided with Nepal seeping the southern face and calling it Sagar- rnatha and China keeping the northern side and calling it Jolmo- Lungrna. Declassified and Approved For Release 2012/08/31: CIA-RDP08CO1297R000200050001-6