Arunachal Pradesh: China renames districts in disputed India state

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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. "According to relevant regulations on the management of place names, the department has standardised some place names in China's South Tibet region".

As per the report, the official names of the six places using the Roman alphabet are Wo'gyainling, Qoid ngarbo Ri, Mila Ri, B mo La, Mainquka and Namkapub Ri.

Commenting on the standardisation of the names of six places, Chinese experts said that it was a move to “reaffirm the countrys territorial sovereignty to the disputed region, ” according to the daily.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said the move was appropriate and reflected the names used by Chinese ethnic groups, such as the Tibetans, over a long time.

China's move comes just days after the Dalai Lama's visit to Arunachal Pradesh, his seventh since he fled Tibet after the Chinese accession and took refuge in India. Chinese foreign ministry refused to accept suggestions from reporters that the renaming was a retaliatory measure linked to the recent controversy over the Dalai Lama's visit to Arunachal Pradesh.

It should come to no one's surprise that the Dalai Lama's visit has drawn the angry protests of China.

Lu today claimed the standardisation of the names was done at this juncture because China was conducting "the second census of names of localities and an important part of it is to standardise names in ethnic languages". The names have been changed to show Chinese sovereignty.

China did not have official names for some "South Tibet" areas but now it had a better understanding and recognition of the geography, including the names of areas in the region, Xiong Kunxin from Beijing's Minzu University of China told the newspaper.

Guo added that standardising the names from the angle of culture can serve as a reference when the two countries will negotiate the border issue in the future.

I said the Dalai Lama is visiting the disputed eastern section of the China-India boundary. "These names have existed since ancient times, but had never been standardised before. Therefore, announcing the names is like a remediation", Guo Kefan, a research fellow at the Tibet Academy of Social Sciences, said. He added: "These activities are also against the Indian government's commitments to China".

Last week, China's civil affairs ministry released a list of six places in the region with what China considers to be their formal names, in Chinese, Tibetan and English.