Dalai Lama's Arunachal Visit Spurs China to Rename Its Six Places

Bruno Cirelli
Aprile 20, 2017

Responding to Dalai Lama's recent Tawang visit, China sent a strong message this week that Arunachal Pradesh was non-negotiable as the Chinese government on April 14 released "standardized" Chinese names of six towns in the north-eastern state.

Beijing has described the northeastern Indian state as a bone of contention and claimed Arunachal Pradesh is a part of south Tibet.

The names were changed to show to India the sovereignty of the region, Chinese state media said.

The move was aimed at reaffirming China's claim over the state.

"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 report added.

"If the situation has to improve, India must send a signal to China, like restricting the Dalai Lama's activities, and renew commitments over the border dispute", Wang said.

Chinese foreign ministry said on Wednesday that more standardized names of towns in Arunachal Pradesh would be made public.

"The standardization came amid China's growing understanding and recognition of the geography in South Tibet". "... if India invites the Dalai Lama to visit the mentioned territory, it will cause serious damage to peace and stability of the border region and China-India relations".

This is not the first time that the Dalai Lama has visited "South Tibet" or referred to the region as Indian territory, which means he is committed to separating the nation, Zhu Weiqun, head of the Ethnic and Religious Affairs Committee of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, told Global Times. "What is imperative now is for the Indian side to take concrete actions to honour its solemn promises on Tibet-related issues", he had said.

The Dalai Lama, who fled to India from Tibet in 1959 following a failed uprising against Chinese rule, says he wants genuine autonomy for his remote homeland rather than independence. Therefore, announcing the names is like a remediation.

Wang Dehua, Director, Institute for South and Central Asia Studies in Shanghai, maintained that through this move, China wanted to prove its territorial jurisdiction and was not necessarily a response to the Dalai Lama's visit.

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.

According to Lu, the standardisation was necessary since all names used in "southern Tibet" were inherited through word-of-mouth for generations by minority ethic groups.

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