In this May 27 photo, members of a Chinese surveying team head for the summit of Mount Everest, also known locally as Mt. Qomolangma.(AP file)
In this May 27 photo, members of a Chinese surveying team head for the summit of Mount Everest, also known locally as Mt. Qomolangma.(AP file)

It’s 8,848.86 metres: China, Nepal jointly announce new height for Mount Everest

Nepal until now had recognised the height of the mountain as 8,848 metres as measured by the Survey of India in 1954.
Hindustan Times, Beijing | By Sutirtho Patranobis , edited by Vinod Janardhanan
UPDATED ON DEC 08, 2020 03:59 PM IST

Mount Everest, the world’s tallest peak, is 8,848.86 metres ( 2,9031.69 feet) tall, China and Nepal jointly announced on Tuesday, also marking a new peak in the two countries’ increasingly close ties.

Nepal until now had recognised the height of the mountain as 8,848 metres as measured by the Survey of India in 1954.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Nepalese counterpart Bidya Devi Bhandari announced the new height of the tallest mountain in the world through an exchange of letters, Chinese official media announced.

Tuesday’s announcement marked the end of a debate between Beijing and Kathmandu - although it was hardly an issue in their close bilateral ties - over a “three-metre” height difference the two neighbours had on the mountain’s height.

Mount Everest straddles the two countries. It is from the Nepalese side that climbers mostly make it to the peak.

Previous calculations by Chinese researchers from a 2005 survey put the mountain’s height at 8,844 metres while Nepal had maintained it was a little taller.

In his letter, Xi said that the two countries had reached a consensus to jointly announce the latest elevation of Mount Everest.

Xi pointed out that Mount Everest was a symbol of friendship between the two countries for generations.

“The two countries have established the world’s highest peak as the boundary peak between China and Nepal and the ‘China-Nepal Friendship Peak’”, the Chinese President said.

The joint announcement fully reflects the high-level of sustained development of China-Nepal ties, Xi told Bhandari.

With the joint efforts of both sides, the political mutual trust between the two countries has been increasing day by day, the joint construction of the “Belt and Road” is progressing steadily, and the trans-Himalayan three-dimensional interconnection network is changing from a vision to a reality, the Chinese President said.

On her part, Bhandari was quoted by Chinese official media as saying the joint announcement was of “historical significance”.

Nepal and China have always been good neighbours, good friends, and good partners, Bhandari said, adding that cooperation between the two countries in areas such as economic development, connectivity, and humanities is in the interests of both countries.

According to the official news agency, Xinhua, Nepalese surveyors had reached the top of the mountain in May 2019 to measure it.

A team of Chinese surveyors also climbed it in May, 2020.

The Nepali government’s efforts to measure the height had come amid speculations from some scientists that the world’s tallest mountain has shrunk after Nepal’s devastating earthquake in 2015.

It was the first time Nepal itself measured its height.

“In 1975, Chinese surveyors measured Mt. Qomolangma as standing at 8,848.13 metres above sea level, which was recognised by the international community,” the Xinhua report said.

In this survey, the Chinese team, for the first time in human history, erected a survey marker atop the summit, allowing six survey points at the foot of the mountain to simultaneously measure the height of the peak.

“In 2005, China remeasured the elevation of Mt. Qomolangma, combining traditional geodetic (land survey) methods and satellite technologies. The task adjusted the height after measuring the depth of the snow cap atop the summit”.

In 1999, the US National Geographic Society and Boston’s Museum of Science measured the height of the peak at 8,850 metres including snow, the report said.

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