One of the long-standing points of conflict between India and China has been the Aksai Chin region in Arunachal Pradesh. And in an apparent attempt to stake claim over it, China renamed six places in the state, which it considers a part of south Tibet.
The Chinese Ministry of Civil Affairs announced these “standardized” official names on April 14 as a part of the census exercise undertaken by the country.
The six names are: Wo’gyainling, Mila Ri, Qoidengarbo Ri, Mainquka, Bumo La and Namkapub Ri. The latitudinal and longitudinal coordinates listed with these names show the places as Tawang, Kra Daadi, West Siang, Siang, Anjaw and Subansiri respectively.
Lu Kang, spokesperson of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs told the press on Wednesday that the standardization of names was “legitimate” and in accordance with regulations of the State Council. “China has a coherent and clear standpoint of the border between China and India,” he said.
The move also came after China had said the Dalai Lama’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh would strain Indo-Chinese ties. The leader had visited the state recently - his seventh visit, after fleeing Tibet and seeking refuge in India.
Speaking on whether this renaming was a response to the same, Lu Kang said that it was part of the second national census the Chinese government was carrying out and that one of the things to be done as part of the census was to standardise minority names.
This standardisation was necessary, Lu said, because the names in use in “south Tibet” had circulated and been in practice through word of mouth by ethnic minorities living in the area. He added that these names legitimized China’s sovereignty claim on South Tibet too on a “prominent historical, cultural, administrative and jurisdictional basis”.
On the issue of India providing shelter to Dalai Lama, Lu said: “Let me stress that about the Indian government's indulgence of (the) Dalai Lama activities in disputed eastern section of the India-China boundary and also about his anti- China activities, this is something we are firmly against. These activities are also against the Indian government's commitments to China.”
China’s move to rename these areas in Arunachal Pradesh riled up many Indians, who took to Twitter to express their displeasure. Take a look at some of these reactions:
China has provocatively renamed six places of Arunachal Pradesh! This is a clear attack on the sovereignty of India!— प्रkash (@iPraksy) April 20, 2017
China renames 6 places in Arunachal Pradesh. This is serious— Kartikeya Sharma (@kartikeya_1975) April 19, 2017
Chinese naming our Arunachal Pradesh. Then it's time now to name Tibet as a country than territory of China.— Sansesh (@Avssesh) April 19, 2017
Boycott the Chinese stuff
Considering China's blabber on Arunachal Pradesh, it's imperative India start raising oppression of Taiwan & Tibet on international forums.— Onkar Pandey (@iOnkarPandey) April 19, 2017
India - We have Arunachal Pradesh, we have Dalai lama, we have the free tibet government and Tibetan people— Gaurab Mukherjee (@gaurab_27) April 19, 2017
China - We have the names
Lu Kang also said that this was merely the first round of standardising names. He added that China would further “study of those names in Tibetan ethnic languages and in the next step we will announce more standardisation of these names” in the future.
India and China have held 19 talks between special representatives of both the states to try and resolve the border dispute which spans the 3,488 kilometre-long Line of Actual Control (LAC).
BJP leader Venkaiah Naidu reacted to the Chinese government’s actions on Thirsday saying that other countries could not change Indian cities’ names. “Other country cannot change our cities’ name, every inch of Arunachal Pradesh belongs to India,” he said.
While experts say that China may even pull out old maps to try and prove that these names have existed for hundreds of years, It remains to be seen what the Indian government’s response to China will be on the issue.