BEIJING: China has announced its own names for six places in Arunachal Pradesh in what appears to be retaliation to Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama visiting the state recently.
The Chinese state media says the unilateral move is aimed at “reaffirming” China’s claim over the state. China claims the state as ‘South Tibet’, while India says Arunachal Pradesh is an integral part of India and is inseparable from the country.
“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’…,” state-run Global Times reported today.
The names announced by China are Wo’gyainling, Mila Ri, Qoid ngarbo Ri, Mainquka, B mo La and Namkapub Ri.
China’s move comes just days after the Dalai Lama’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh, his seventh since he fled Tibet and trekked through the Himalayas to enter India through Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh.
As the 81-year-old Tibetan spiritual leader toured Arunachal Pradesh, China warned India that it will take “necessary measures to defend its territorial sovereignty and interests.” China considers the Dalai Lama a “dangerous separatist” who wants to free Tibet from China.
Indian officials dismissed China’s criticism, accusing it of creating “an artificial controversy” over the visit of the Dalai Lama, who has a devoted following in the state.
In a comment that infuriated Beijing further, Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu said his state shares a border with “Tibet and not China.”
Earlier this month Junior Home Minister Kiren Rijiju, who is also from the state, said, “Arunachal Pradesh is an inseparable part of India, and China should not object to his (the Dalai Lama) visit and interfere in India’s internal affairs.”
China has repeatedly warned that by enabling the Dalai Lama’s trip, New Delhi has “severely damaged China’s interests and China-India relations.”
On the names announced by Beijing, Guo Kefan, a research fellow at the Tibet Academy of Social Sciences, was quoted in the Chinese media as claiming: “These names have existed since ancient times, but had never been standardised before. Therefore, announcing the names is like a remediation.”