‘Invented names’: India hits out at Beijing for ‘renaming’ 15 places in Arunachal

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The external affairs ministry said this is not the first time China has attempted to rename places in Arunachal Pradesh and sought to assign such names in April 2017. The Chinese move comes ahead of a new border security law coming into effect from January 1.

NEW DELHI: India on Thursday dismissed China’s move to rename 15 locations in the northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, which is claimed by Beijing, and said such actions will not alter the region’s status as an integral part of the country.

New Delhi’s sharp rebuttal after China’s ministry of civil affairs issued a statement that said it has “standardised” the names of 15 places in Arunachal Pradesh for use in Chinese maps. The statement referred to the Indian state as Zangnan, the southern part of China’s Xizang region.

Among the 15 locations renamed by China are eight residential areas, four mountains, two rivers and a mountain pass.

External affairs ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi referred to China’s move of renaming the places in Arunachal Pradesh in its own language and said: “We have seen such reports. This is not the first time China has attempted such a renaming of places in the state of Arunachal Pradesh. China had also sought to assign such names in April 2017.”

Bagchi added: “Arunachal Pradesh has always been, and will always be an integral part of India. Assigning invented names to places in Arunachal Pradesh does not alter this fact.”

China claims 90,000 sq km in Arunachal Pradesh as southern Tibet, but such claims have always been rejected by the Indian side. The latest development came against the backdrop of a standoff between Indian and Chinese troops in Ladakh sector of the Line of Actual Control (LAC), which began in May last year and has taken relations to an all-time low.

China issued its own names for six places in Arunachal Pradesh in 2017. The latest list of names was issued ahead of a new border security law coming into effect from January 1. It gives more powers to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and state agencies to use civilians in border areas as a first line of defence, to strengthen infrastructure, and to build more border towns.

Zhang Yongpan, a research fellow at the Institute of Chinese Borderland Studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told state-run Global Times daily that the renaming of places in Arunachal Pradesh and the adoption of China’s first national law for protection and exploitation of land border areas are “important moves made by the country to safeguard national sovereignty, better maintain national security and manage border-related matters at the legal level amid regional tensions, including frictions with India”.

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