China renames 30 places in Arunachal Pradesh; Jaishankar says it means nothing | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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China renames 30 places in Arunachal Pradesh; Jaishankar says it means nothing

BySutirtho Patranobis
Apr 01, 2024 06:56 PM IST

“If today I change the name of your house, will it become mine?” S Jaishankar said, asserting that Arunachal Pradesh was, is and will be a state of India

NEW DELHI: China has rechristened 30 locations in Arunachal Pradesh with Chinese and Tibetan names as part of its continuing efforts to assert claims over the north-eastern Indian state. This is the fourth time that China unilaterally changed the names of locations in the state.

FILE PHOTO: The change in names of Arunachal Pradesh locations by China will not have any impact on the places in the Indian state but is a marker of the state of ties between the two neighbours. (Shutterstock)
FILE PHOTO: The change in names of Arunachal Pradesh locations by China will not have any impact on the places in the Indian state but is a marker of the state of ties between the two neighbours. (Shutterstock)

The new names will be reflected on official Chinese maps later this year.

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The renaming comes days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Arunachal where he inaugurated the Sela Tunnel built at an altitude of 13,000 feet, an infrastructure project that is set to ease the movement of troops in the mountainous region.

India has repeatedly rejected the renaming of places in the past and dismissed claims over Arunachal, which Beijing has claimed is part of the southern region of Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), called “zagnan”.

“China may repeat its baseless claims as many times as they want. That is not going to change the position. Arunachal Pradesh was, is and will always remain an integral and inalienable part of India,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal said last week after Beijing protested Modi’s visit.

The change in names will not have any impact on the places in the Indian state but is a marker of the state of ties between the two Himalayan neighbours.

Asked about the latest move, external affairs minister S Jaishankar told reporters: “If today I change the name of your house, will it become mine? Arunachal Pradesh was, is and will always be a state of India. Changing names does not have an effect”.

Renaming of locations

China’s civil affairs ministry (MCA) released the new list of names on Saturday, Chinese state media reported.

Beijing last standardised the names of 11 places in Arunachal Pradesh using Chinese characters, Tibetan and pinyin, which is the standard romanisation of Mandarin characters, on Chinese maps in April 2023.

Earlier, China renamed places in the Indian state in April 2017, and in December 2021.

“Set to take effect from May 1, 2024, the implementation measures stipulate in Article 13 that ‘place names in foreign languages that may harm China’s territorial claims and sovereignty rights shall not be directly quoted or translated without authorisation’,” the state-run Global Times tabloid reported, quoting the government notice on the latest renaming.

“The renaming covered 11 residential areas, 12 mountains, four rivers, one lake, one mountain pass and a piece of land,” the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported, adding: “The new list includes more parts of the disputed area than the three previous renamings over the past seven years.”

Bill Hayton, associate fellow at the Chatham House Asia-Pacific programme and author of books on China and Vietnam, told HT last year that China’s practice of renaming places in disputed areas is an effort to “inculcate a sense of anxiety about the perceived loss of territory”.

“This dates back at least to the 1920s. Much of these claims are specious and demonstrate some misunderstandings of East Asian history. These misunderstandings have left a dangerous legacy in the modern era,” Hayton had said.

In 2017, China changed the name of locations in Arunachal Pradesh on April 13, a day after Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama left Arunachal Pradesh following a high-profile nine-day visit. Beijing calls the Dalai Lama a splittist, and says he wants to create an independent country of Tibet.

India and China have been locked in a standoff in the Ladakh sector since early May 2020, sending bilateral ties plummeting to their worst in decades. Both sides have deployed thousands of troops and heavy armament along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

A deadly clash at Galwan Valley in June 2020 left 20 Indian soldiers and at least four Chinese troops dead – the first fatalities along the LAC since 1975.

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