Home Diplomacy China ‘renames’ 15 places in Arunachal Pradesh before its land border law...

China ‘renames’ 15 places in Arunachal Pradesh before its land border law is enforced on 1 Jan

China claims Arunachal Pradesh as its own territory of 'South Tibet', and this is not first time it has 'standardised' names of places. In 2017, it had 'renamed' 6 places.

A representational image of Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh | Commons
A representational image of Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh | Commons

New Delhi: China Thursday ‘renamed’ 15 places — including residential areas, mountains, rivers and a mountain pass — situated in the state of Arunachal Pradesh, which it claims as its own territory called ‘South Tibet’.

The move comes two days before Beijing’s new border law, initially passed earlier this year and titled the ‘Land Border Law of the People’s Republic of China’, is to come into effect on 1 January 2022. 

The law, which aims to strengthen border control, directly concerns countries that share a land border with China, and has potential implications for India’s ongoing tensions with it along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

India is yet to respond to the latest development. However, the Ministry of External Affairs has repeatedly maintained that Arunachal Pradesh is an “integral and inalienable part of India”.

According to a report in state-run daily Global Times Thursday, China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs announced that it had “standardised” in Chinese characters and Tibetan and Roman alphabets the names of 15 places in what it refers to as ‘Zangnan’, the ‘southern part of Xizang’, as it calls the Tibet Autonomous Region.  

This is not the first time China has “standardised” names of places in Arunachal Pradesh. The first batch of changed names were issued in 2017 for six places in the state.

India and China have been locked in a border stand-off in the northern Ladakh sector of the LAC since May 2020.

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‘Legitimate move, sovereign right’

Out of the 15 changed names announced, eight are for residential areas, four are for mountains, two for rivers and one for a mountain pass. This is “in accordance with regulations on geographical names issued by the State Council, China’s cabinet”, the Global Times report stated.

According to Lian Xiangmin, an expert with the China Tibetology Research Center in Beijing, more such “standardisation” of names is to come. The expert told the Global Times that the Civil Affairs Ministry has made a “legitimate move” and that it is China’s “sovereign right” to do so. 

“More standardised place names in the region will be announced in the future,” Lian was quoted as saying.

Border law

China’s new border law, to come into effect Saturday, is one of three controversial laws passed amid the country’s ongoing territorial disputes with India as well as other countries. The other two are the coast guard law and the maritime safety law, which came into effect in February and September 2021, respectively.

The border law states: “The State (China) and its land neighbours shall, in accordance with delimitation treaties, delineate land borders on the spot and conclude demarcation treaties. Boundary demarcation treaties shall be approved by the State Council in accordance with legal provisions.”

“If the personnel illegally crossing the border are members of the armed forces, they shall be dealt with by the relevant military agencies,” it adds.

(Edited by Saikat Niyogi)

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