China–Nepal border

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Map of the China-Nepal border

The China–Nepal border is the international boundary between the Tibet Autonomous Region of China and Nepal. It is 1,389 kilometres (863 mi) in length and runs in a northwest-southeast direction along the Himalayan mountain range, including Mount Everest, the world's highest mountain.[1] The boundaries of this particular border have changed dramatically over time, especially when considering relatively recent events such as the Annexation of Tibet in 1949. However, some of the most significant developments of modern times would be the signing of the "Agreement on Maintaining Friendly Relations between the People’s Republic of China and the Kingdom of Nepal" in 1956 and the "Sino-Nepalese Treaty of Peace and Friendship" in 1960, both of which formally recognised Tibet as a part of China and confirmed the limits of the countries of China and Nepal as they are known today.[2][3]


Mount Everest, as seen from Ronguk monastery in Tibet

The border starts in the west at the western tripoint with India near the Tinkar Pass in Sudurpashchim Pradesh.[4] It then proceeds south-east to the Urai Pass and then north-east, briefly utilising the Karnali River, before turning to the south-east at the Lapche Pass. It then proceeds in that general direction over various mountains crests in the Himalayan range, including Mount Everest, Mount Makalu and Mount Salasungo, as passes such as the Manja, Thau, Marima, Pindu, Gyala, Lajing and Popti Passes.[5] It terminates at the eastern tripoint with India on Jongsong Peak.[5]


The border region has historically existed at the edges of various Nepali, Indian and Tibetan kingdoms.[5] Cross-border trade between Nepalis and Tibetans has existed for centuries, for example in wool, tea, spices and salt.[6][7] Though various Nepali-Tibetan treaties were signed in the 18th-19th centuries, these concerned the ownership of often vaguely-defined territories rather than with delimiting a precise boundary.[5]

In 1950-51 China annexed Tibet, and thereby inherited the somewhat confused situation along the boundary.[8] On 21 March 1960 a border treaty was signed which recognised the "traditional customary line" and created a joint boundary commission to delimit a more precise border.[5] Having completed their work, a final boundary treaty was signed on 5 October 1961.[5] The border was then demarcated on the ground with pillars, and a final protocol signed on 23 January 1963.[5]

While not disputed between Nepal and China, the western China–Nepal–India tripoint is disputed between Nepal and India. In 2015, the Nepalese parliament objected to the agreement between India and China to trade through Lipulekh stating that 'it violates Nepal's sovereign rights over the disputed territory'.[9] After Indian prime minister Narendra Modi's visit to China in 2015, India and China agreed to open a trading post in Lipulekh, raising objections from Nepal.[10][11] Nepal intended to resolve the issue via diplomatic means with India.[12]

Border crossings[edit]

In 2012, Nepal and China agreed to open new ports of entry, to a total of six official ports. Three of the ports are designated as international ports, while three others are only designated for bilateral trade.[13]

The border crossing between Zhangmu and Kodari on the Friendship Highway has been in operation since 1968.[14] In 2014, the border crossing at Rasuwa Fort (Rasuwagadhi) was opened for commerce and then for foreign nationals from 2017.[6][15][16] In addition, this border crossing is being considered for a future rail crossing between the two countries.[17]

Other crossings, like the one at Burang-Hilsa near the western tripoint, while not widely accessible have been used for local trade between China and Nepal for many years.[18] Some of those crossings have become so important for local trade that in 2008, when Chinese tightened its border control during the Olympics, villages like Kimathanka faced food shortages due to disruption of local trade.[19] Historically, there are even more border crossings. The crossing at Kora La between Upper Mustang and Tibet for example was a major salt trade route, however it was closed due to Tibetan guerrilla activity in the 1960s. It remains closed for most of the year to this day, except when opening for limited local trade during the semi-annual cross-border trade fairs.[6]

Ports of Entry According to 2012 Treaty
Treaty Name[13](Other Name) Jurisdictions[13] Status International
inside T.A.R.
Burang–Yari (Xieerwa[20]) Hilsa, Humla District
Burang, Burang County
Active Planned 30°09′12″N 81°20′00″E / 30.15333°N 81.33333°E / 30.15333; 81.33333 3,640 m (11,900 ft) 4,720 m (15,500 ft) Local trade currently exists
Lizi—Nechung (Kora La) Lo Manthang, Mustang District
Zhongba County
Planned No 29°19′24″N 83°59′09″E / 29.32333°N 83.98583°E / 29.32333; 83.98583 4,620 m (15,200 ft) Seasonal trade fair currently exists
Gyirong–Rasuwa Rasuwa Gadhi, Rasuwa District
Gyirong, Gyirong County
Active Yes 28°16′45″N 85°22′43″E / 28.27917°N 85.37861°E / 28.27917; 85.37861 1,850 m (6,100 ft) 5,230 m (17,200 ft)
ZhangmuKodari Tatopani, Sindhupalchok District
Zhangmu, Nyalam County
Active[21] Yes 27°58′24″N 85°57′50″E / 27.97333°N 85.96389°E / 27.97333; 85.96389 1,760 m (5,800 ft) 5,150 m (16,900 ft)
Chentang–Kimathanka Kimathanka, Sankhuwasabha District
Chentang, Dinggyê County
Planned No 27°51′30″N 87°25′30″E / 27.85833°N 87.42500°E / 27.85833; 87.42500 2,248 m (7,400 ft) Local trade currently exists
Ri'og–Olangchung Gola (Tipta La) Olangchung Gola, Taplejung District
Ri'og, Dinggyê County
Planned No 27°49′00″N 87°44′00″E / 27.81667°N 87.73333°E / 27.81667; 87.73333 5,095 m (16,700 ft) Local trade currently exists


Historical maps of the border from west to east in the International Map of the World and Operational Navigation Chart, middle/late 20th century:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Nepal". CIA World Factbook. Retrieved 23 September 2020.
  2. ^ Van Tronder, Gerry (2018). Sino-Indian War: Border Clash: October–November 1962. Pen and Sword Military. ISBN 9781526728388.
  3. ^ Adhikari, Monalisa (2012). "Between the Dragon and the Elephant: Nepal's Neutrality Conundrum". Indian Journal of Asian Affairs. 25 (1/2): 85. JSTOR 41950522.
  4. ^ Cowan, Sam (2015), The Indian checkposts, Lipu Lekh, and Kalapani, School of Oriental and African Studies, pp. 16–17
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Office of the Geographer (1965-05-30), International Boundary Study - China – Nepal Boundary (PDF), Bureau of Intelligence and Research, US Department of State, archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-05-03, retrieved 2017-02-14
  6. ^ a b c Murton, Galen (March 2016). "A Himalayan Border Trilogy: The Political Economies of Transport Infrastructure and Disaster Relief between China and Nepal". Cross-Currents E-Journal. ISSN 2158-9674. Retrieved 2017-02-09.
  7. ^ Eede, Joanna (2015-06-12). "Nomads of Dolpo". National Geographic Voices. National Geographic. Retrieved 2017-02-10.
  8. ^ Office of the Geographer (1965): "The exact number of territorial disputes has never been ascertained, but as many as 20 sectors may have been involved. The most serious disputes were located at Rasu (north of Katmandu), Kimathanka in the east, Nara Pass, Tingribode near Mustang, Mount Everest, and the Nelu River. Most of these disputes were settled in favor of Nepal, although several favored China."
  9. ^ Nepal objects to India-China trade pact via Lipu-Lekh Pass, The Economic Times, 9 June 2015.
  10. ^ "Resolve Lipu-Lekh Pass dispute: House panel to govt", Republica, 28 June 2018, archived from the original on 28 June 2018
  11. ^ Ekantipur Report (July 9, 2015). "Lipulekh dispute: UCPN (M) writes to PM Koirala, Indian PM Modi & Chinese Prez Xi". Kathmandu Post. Retrieved 13 January 2020.
  12. ^ "Post-J&K map ache spreads to Nepal". Telegraph India. 8 November 2019. Retrieved 15 November 2019.
  13. ^ a b c "中华人民共和国政府和尼泊尔政府关于边境口岸及其管理制度的协定" [China-Nepal Agreement on Port of Entry] (in Chinese). Chinese Embassy in Nepal. 2012-01-14. Retrieved 2017-02-10.
  14. ^ Buddhi Narayan Shrestha (2015-11-29). "Nepal-China Seven Border Crossing-points". Border Nepal Buddhi. Retrieved 2017-02-09. Kodari-Khasa has been in operation since 1968 for the transaction of trade and commerce. The second commercial border-point is the Rasuwagadhi-Kerung, which has come into use recently.
  15. ^ Lobsang (2016-06-25). "Tibet Nepal Border Closedsalt". The Land of Snows. Archived from the original on 2017-02-11. Retrieved 2017-02-09. the new border crossing from Kyirong, Tibet to Rasuwaghadi, Nepal. Though this border crossing has NOT been opened to foreign travelers yet, this route has been open to traders from Nepal and China for much of the past year...
  16. ^ Tenphel, Sonam. "Gyirong Port, new Sino-Nepal Border Finally was Opened, so Lhasa and Kathmandu Overland Tour is all Available Now". Tibet Vista. Retrieved 26 November 2017.
  17. ^ "China Wants To Stretch Rail Network All The Way To Touch Bihar: Report". NDTV. 2016-05-24. Retrieved 2017-02-09. A cross-border railroad link to the Rasuwagadhi area in Nepal has already been discussed between the two countries.
  18. ^ Prithvi Man Shrestha; Jaya Bahadur Rokaya (2016-03-24). "Nepal, China rush to open Hilsa border". Kathmandu Post. Retrieved 2017-02-10. Hilsa is one of the six border points Nepal and China had agreed to open for international trade when former Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jibao visited Kathmandu in 2012.
  19. ^ Budhathoki, Kishor (2008-06-04). "China seals border, villages on Nepali side face starvation". The Himalayan Times. Retrieved 2017-02-13. Starvation looms large in the northern parts of Sankhuwasabha district after China closed the Kimathanka check post
  20. ^ "News from China" (PDF). Chinese Embassy in India. Vol. XXVIII no. 7. July 2016. Retrieved 2017-02-15.
  21. ^ "Kodari Checkpoint To Open Today". The Spotlight Online. 2019-05-29. Retrieved 2019-06-28.


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