China’s move to rename six areas in Arunachal Pradesh has not gone down well with the Indian establishment which recently reiterated that Arunachal is an integral part of India. In a statement to the media a few days ago, MEA spokesperson Gopal Baglay had said, “Renaming or inventing names of states of your neighbour do not make illegal occupation as legal”. China’s move to rename areas comes days after it lodged vehement protests with the Indian ambassador in Beijing that the Dalai Lama’s visit to the state would worsen already frosty ties between the two countries.
While experts believe that the move was meant more as a deterrent, the Chinese government has said it was a legitimate part of a census exercise. “China’s move is likely designed to deter India from allowing the Dalai Lama to visit disputed border areas in the future, particularly the state of Arunachal Pradesh, which contains a sizeable Tibetan refugee population,” senior analyst Siddharth Goel from Control Risks told Indianexpress.com.
“Unlike the Dalai Lama’s previous visit to the state in 2009, Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju accompanied him on this visit, likely increasing China’s mistrust over New Delhi’s intentions. Beijing’s decision to standardise the names of six areas in Arunachal Pradesh will be viewed as a provocation from the Indian establishment, who consider the state to be an integral part of the country, and is likely to deepen mistrust over unresolved border issues and maritime disputes,” added Goel.
Another China expert opined last week that the six places renamed by China recently have some relative significance to the Buddhist spiritual leader. Srikanth Kondapalli, a professor of Chinese studies at the Jawaharlal Nehru University told PTI that the move is “just an attempt to show its severe displeasure to India” for allowing the Dalai Lama to visit the Tawang monastery in Arunachal Pradesh.
Meanwhile, China has dismissed India’s charge, saying it is its ‘lawful right’ to do so. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang had last week said Beijing’s position on the eastern section of the India-China boundary is clear and consistent, in a veiled reference to Arunachal Pradesh. “Relevant names have been used by ethnic Momba and Tibetan Chinese who have lived here for generations. So it is a fact that cannot be changed. To standardise these names and publicise them is a legitimate measure based on our lawful right,” he had said.
The renaming controversy erupted on Thursday when China had announced it’s decision to ‘standardise’ official names for six places in Arunachal Pradesh terming their move as ‘legitimate action’. India responded promptly saying Arunachal is an integral part of India.
The six areas renamed by China are Wo’gyainling, Mila Ri, Qoidengarbo Ri, Mainquka, Bumo La and Namkapub Ri. The corresponding names with their latitude and longitude taken into account list these places as Tawang, Kra Daadi, West Siang, Siang, Anjaw and Subansiri respectively.