(TibetanReview.net, Apr04’23) – India has today rejected China’s move to reassert claim over parts of its border state of Arunachal Pradesh by renaming a total of 11 places in it in the latest of three announcements it has issued since 2017.
“We reject this outright. Arunachal Pradesh is, has been, and will always be an integral and inalienable part of India. Attempts to assign invented names will not alter this reality.” The indianexpress.com Apr 4 quoted India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) spokesperson Arindam Bagchi as saying,
It was earlier reported by the official globaltimes.cn Apr 3 that China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs had standardized the names of 11 places in Zangnan (southern part of Southwest China’s Xizang Autonomous Region) in Chinese characters, Tibetan and pinyin, in accordance with regulations on geographical names issued by the State Council, China’s cabinet.
The report called it “a legitimate move and China’s sovereign right to standardize the geographical names,” in apparent anticipation of India’s rejection of its move.
The official names released by China on Apr 2 were stated to give “precise coordinates, including two residential areas, five mountain peaks, two rivers and two other areas.” It was also stated to have listed the category of places’ names and their subordinate administrative districts.
The report made it clear that this was the third batch of standardized geographical names in Zangnan issued by China, with the first one of six places released in 2017, and the second batch of 15 places issued in 2021.
The report claimed that Zangnan “has been China’s territory since ancient times”, that in order to strengthen the standardized administration of place names, China’s move to standardize the names in Zangnan completely “falls within China’s sovereignty” and it is also in accordance with the regulation on the administration of geographical names.
Zhang Yongpan, a research fellow of the Institute of Chinese Borderland Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, has said the in order to “safeguard national sovereignty, maintain peace in border regions and manage border-related matters at the legal level,” it was necessary to “make people more aware of China’s territory.”
India dismissed such moves by China on the previous occasions too. For example, in Dec 2021, an MEA spokesperson said, “This is not the first time China has attempted such a renaming of places in the state of Arunachal Pradesh. … Arunachal Pradesh has always been, and will always be an integral part of India. Assigning invented names to places in Arunachal Pradesh does not alter this fact.”
China announced the first set of names in 2017 days after the Dalai Lama’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh, noted the indianexpress.com report. China was sharply critical of the Tibetan spiritual leader’s visit at that time.
The Dalai Lama has previously made it clear that following the 1914 tripartite Shimla convention for settling the border dispute among British India, China and Tibet, what China calls Zangnan has been part of India.