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Amid climbing ban, China’s team at Mt Everest to measure world’s tallest peak

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China has sent a team of scientists and surveyors to Mount Everest to measure the world’s tallest peak amid ongoing ban on climbing because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The new measurement of the mountain could resolve the question whether Mount Everest lost some of its height in the magnitude 8.1 earthquake in 2015 that ravaged Nepal.

The project was made public last week on the same day as telecom giant Huawei and China Mobile, the world’s largest mobile operator, announced that they had installed 5G antennas at the mountain’s advance base camp at a height of 6,500 metres and at the lower base camp, at 5300 metres and at 5800 metres to help the survey.

A China Mobile technician told state media that the new network is fast enough for climbers and scientists to have 4K and VR live streaming on the mountain.

The most-accepted elevation of the mountain, which straddles Nepal and China, is 8848 metres or 20,029 feet confirmed after an Indian expedition in 1955.

Beijing and Kathmandu have differed on whether to include the mountain’s snow-capped peak as part of its altitude with the latter favouring it.

The new expedition is expected to update the state of the mountain, which is

known as Sagarmatha in Nepal and Qomolangma in China and in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR).

The official news agency Xinhua said earlier this week that a 53-member team from the ministry of national resources (MNR) is conducting preliminary scientific work since early March and survey work on the mountain is due to begin this month.

“The measurement team, consisting of members from the MNR and the national mountaineering team, has arrived at the base camp of the peak for training on mountain climbing and surveying skills in the high-altitude region, making preparation for the measurement planned in May,” the Xinhua report added.

Besides MNR, the mission is being organised by the foreign ministry, the General Administration of Sport and the TAR government.

Li Guopeng, the MNR team leader, said the Chinese BeiDou Navigation Satellite System and homegrown surveying equipment will be applied to the measurement.

The team will use aerial gravity measurement to improve the accuracy, and the three-dimensional technology will provide a visual demonstration of the natural resources of Qomolangma, Li said, adding that the measurement team will climb to the summit to obtain reliable data.

According to Beijing, the mountain is recognised as a symbol of the friendship between Nepal and China.

According to a joint statement signed between the two countries last October after President Xi Jinping’s visit, the two sides will promote cooperation in different fields, including addressing climate change and protecting the environment, and jointly announce the height of Mount Qomolangma and conduct scientific researches.

“Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, Chinese surveyors have conducted six rounds of scaled measurement and scientific research on Mount Qomolangma and released the height of the peak twice in 1975 and 2005, which was 8,848.13 meters and 8,844.43 meters respectively.”

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