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.
The names were changed to show to India the “sovereignty” of the region, said the Chinese state media, which on several occasions warned India of consequences for allowing the Tibetan spiritual leader to visit the “disputed area”.
Changing the names was China’s “legitimate” right and carried out according to Chinese law, the Chinese foreign ministry said on Wednesday, adding it supported Beijing’s territorial claim.
China says Arunachal Pradesh, on the 3,488-km disputed border between the two countries, is part of south Tibet with close Buddhist links with the Tibet Autonomous Region in the Mainland.
It calls the Dharamsala-based Dalai Lama a separatist out to carve an independent Tibet within Chinese mainland.
“China has standardised the names of six places in South Tibet, a region that is part of China’s territory but in which some areas are currently controlled by India,” a state media report said on Tuesday.
Official Chinese maps show the state as part of south Tibet. “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 said.
China’s ministry of civil affairs carried out the name changes on April 13, a day after the Dalai Lama left Arunachal following a nine-day high-profile visit. It was reported by the state-controlled media on Tuesday.