Chinese netizens have greeted positively the joint announcement by the foreign ministers of Nepal and China on 8 December of the new height of Mt Everest, with some light-hearted reflections and token appreciation.
On Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and his Nepali counterpart Pradeep Gyawali pressed a crystal ball simultaneously in Beijing and Kathmandu in a virtual joint announcement that Sagarmatha-Zhumulangma was 0.86 metre higher than the previous calculation.
The official elevation of the world’s highest mountain on the Himalayan border between the two countries is now 8848.86m. The Chinese expedition to Mt Everest this year, and the joint measurement project has been covered in the Chinese mainstream media and anticipation was building up here about the final height.
The reaction in Nepal’s cybersphere has also been largely positive, there has been some ridicule about Prime Minister Oli’s government touting Mt Everest’s ‘growth’ as another of its ‘achievements’. In China, the reaction has been largely positive, and pride about the state-of-the-art technology that made the exact height measurement possible.
While Twitter and Facebook are not readily available in China, there was a buzz on the most popular Chinese social media platform Weibo, which has 516 million users.
For some, 8,848.86m evoked nostalgia of school days when the height of Zhumulangma had to be memorised for the annual gaokao exam, China’s toughest university entrance exam for 10 million high school students. Some poked fun about having to memorise the new height all over again for the upcoming exam.
The Everest height announcement prompted many to re-watch the once popular 2013 Chinese movie Up in the Wind which was shot on location amidst Nepal’s mountains. The film is credited with sending many young Chinese tourists flocking to visit Nepal.
After Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Nepal in October 2019, both countries agreed to jointly announce the new height. Since then, Chinese state-media had already begun building up the excitement about the new height measurement through social media platforms.
Late in July 2020, CCTV1 invited the Chinese team online to share their experience of the installation of a 5G base station on the north side of Mt Everest.
This was followed by a trending challenge on Weibo with prizes for winners who guess the true height of Mt Everest. Three netizens whose answers were the closest to the actual height were announced with a gift from CCTV1.