China Renames 11 Places in Arunachal Pradesh, Raised India’s Concerns

To reassert its claim on Arunachal Pradesh, Beijing has recently issued the third list of names in Chinese, Tibetan, and Pinyin characters for this Indian state. This move by China comes merely a week after India hosted the G20 meeting in Arunachal Pradesh, which China chose not to participate in.

China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs on Sunday issued standardized names of 11 places for Arunachal Pradesh, which it refers to as “Zhangnan, the southern part of Tibet”, in accordance with the regulations on geographical names issued by the State Council, China’s cabinet.

Along with this, China also released a map, in which some parts of Arunachal Pradesh have been shown inside the southern Tibetan region. It also includes a city close to Itanagar, the capital of Arunachal Pradesh.

The ministry on Sunday released the official names of 11 places with precise coordinates, including two land areas, two residential areas, five mountain peaks and two rivers, the government-run Global Times reported on Monday. In addition, the names of the places and the range of their subordinate administrative districts are listed.

The Global Times is part of the People’s Daily group of publications, the mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party. It quoted Chinese experts as saying that the announcement of the names is a legitimate step and that it is China’s sovereign right to standardize geographical names.

This is the third list of standardized geographical names for Arunachal Pradesh issued by the Ministry of China. The first list of standardized names of six places in Arunachal was released in 2017 and then the second list of 15 places was released in 2021.

India has in the past rejected China’s move to rename some places in Arunachal Pradesh and it (India) has been maintaining that the state (Arunachal Pradesh) has ‘always’ been an integral part of India and ‘always’ will be. The ‘made up’ names do not change this fact.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi said in December 2021, “This is not the first time that China has tried to rename places in Arunachal Pradesh in this way.” He had said, “Arunachal Pradesh has always been part of India. It has been an integral part, and will always be. Giving invented names to places in Arunachal Pradesh does not change this fact.”

The first list of names was announced by China in 2017 after Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh. China had criticized his visit a lot. The Dalai Lama fled Tibet via Tawang in Arunachal Pradesh and took refuge in India in 1959 after China’s military occupation of Tibet in 1950.