Union information and broadcasting minister M Venkaiah Naidu said on Thursday no foreign country has the right to rename Indian cities, responding to the Chinese action of unilaterally changing the names of six places in Arunachal Pradesh.
China renamed the places in Arunachal Pradesh in an apparent retaliation against the Dalai Lama’s visit last week to India’s easternmost state, which Beijing disputes as part of its territory.
“Every inch of Arunachal Pradesh belongs to India ... let them rename. How does it matter? It’s like you renaming your neighbour. It does not change his name,” Naidu said in a tit-for-tat response to Beijing’s symbolic snub.
Besides, his comments suggest India’s hardened stand against the provocative Chinese action, which might affect bilateral relations between the two Asian giants. India shares more than $66 billion in annual trade with China but has a long-running border dispute and fought a brief war in 1962.
Foreign ministry spokesperson Gopal Baglay reaffirmed that Arunachal Pradesh is an integral part of India.
“Renaming or inventing names of states of your neighbour do not make illegal occupation as legal,” he said.
When asked if India has taken up the matter with China, he said the Chinese government has not communicated anything officially so far and the ministry has seen only reports on the development.
China announced on Tuesday that it has standardised official names for six places in the northeastern state and termed the move as “legitimate action”.
Beijing had lodged protests with India over the Dalai Lama’s visit to the frontier state.
Experts said China’s move is aimed at reaffirming Beijing’s “territorial sovereignty” to the region.
Beijing says Arunachal Pradesh is part of South Tibet with close Buddhist links. Official Chinese maps show the state as part of South Tibet.
(With agency inputs)