image courtesy:India Samvad

China has unilaterally renamed six places in Arunachal Pradesh in standard Chinese in what appears to be the first sign of retaliation against the 14th Dalai Lama’s visit to India’s easternmost state earlier this month.

The names were changed to show to India the ‘sovereignty’ of the region, said the Chinese state media, which on several occasions warned India of consequences for allowing the Tibetan spiritual leader to visit the “disputed area”.

“China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs announced on April 14 that it had standardised in Chinese characters, Tibetan and Roman alphabet the names of six places in ‘South Tibet’, which India calls ‘Arunachal Pradesh’, in accordance with the regulations of the central government,”

The official names of the six places using the Roman alphabet are Wo’gyainling, Mila Ri, Qoidêngarbo Ri, Mainquka, Bümo La and Namkapub Ri. The India-China border dispute covers the 3,488 km-long Line of Actual Control (LoAC).

While China claims Arunachal Pradesh as South Tibet, India asserts that the dispute covers Aksai Chin area which was occupied by China during the 1962 war.

The two sides have so far held 19 rounds of talks with Special Representatives to resolve the boundary dispute.

The territorial dispute with China has now spilled over from the map to the realms of the cultural and linguistic. This follows Beijing’s objections to the visit of the Dalai Lama to Arunachal. The Dalai Lama returned from the North East Indian state on 13 April.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told reporters, “Let me stress that about the Indian government’s indulgence of (the) Dalai Lama activities in disputed eastern section of the India-China boundary and also about his anti- China activities, this is something we are firmly against. These activities are also against the Indian government’s commitments to China.”

During the Dalai Lama’s Arunachal Pradesh visit, Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju, who accompanied the Tibetan spiritual leader, had asserted that Arunachal Pradesh is “an inseparable part of India”.

China had lodged a diplomatic protest with India over the visit and warned that it would have a negative impact on the efforts to resolve the border dispute. After the nine-day visit of the Dalai Lama to Arunachal Pradesh, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang had said that India should not use the Tibetan spiritual leader to undermine China’s interests.

During the 81-year-old Tibetan spiritual leader’s Arunachal Pradesh visit, China had warned India that it will take “necessary measures” to defend its territorial sovereignty and interests.

“We urge the Indian side to observe its commitment on Tibet-related issues and implement our consensus namely they should not use Dalai Lama to undermine the interests of China. Only in this way can we create a good atmosphere to the settlement of the boundary question, ” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang had said.