China rename

Itanagar, April 04: China’s latest move to rename 11 places in Arunachal Pradesh, a northeastern state in India, is expected to further deepen the mistrust between the two countries at a time when bilateral relations are already at their worst in decades. The places renamed include mountain peaks, rivers, and residential areas.

This is not the first time China has unilaterally renamed places in Arunachal Pradesh. In April 2017 and December 2021, China also carried out similar moves, which were promptly rejected by India. New Delhi has always maintained that Arunachal Pradesh is an integral and “inseparable” part of India.

China claims that Arunachal Pradesh is part of South Tibet and has renamed places in the state using Tibetan names. The latest move is a continuation of China’s effort to standardize the names of places in the southern part of Tibet. The new names will now also be available in Pinyin, the standard romanization of Mandarin characters, on Chinese maps.

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China’s civil affairs ministry said in a statement that the renaming of places in southern Tibet was carried out according to the relevant regulations of the State Council on the management of geographical names. The ministry also released the official names of the 11 places and their precise coordinates.

Experts in China defended the move, saying that it falls within China’s sovereignty. Zhang Yongpan from the Institute of Chinese Borderland Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that China’s move to standardize the names is “completely reasonable and legitimate.” Lian Xiangmin, an expert with the China Tibetology Research Center in Beijing, added that more “standardized” place names in the region would be announced in the future.

The latest move by China comes at a time when tensions between India and China are already high. The two countries have been locked in a standoff in the Ladakh sector since May 2020, sending bilateral ties plummeting.

The standoff has resulted in both sides deploying thousands of troops and heavy armament along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). The deadly clash at the Galwan Valley in June 2020 left 20 Indian soldiers and at least four Chinese troops dead, the first fatalities along the LAC since 1975.

India has not yet responded to China’s latest move, but it is expected to reject it once again. The renaming of places in Arunachal Pradesh by China will not have any direct impact on the places listed. However, it is likely to deepen the mistrust between the two countries and further strain bilateral ties.