What’s in a name? China’s show of desperation in Arunachal Pradesh
This is not the first time China has “standardized” names of places in Arunachal Pradesh. A similar attempt was done in 2017 for six places in the State.
MEA in a sharply worded response noted, “Arunachal Pradesh has always been, and will always be an integral part of India. Assigning invented names to places in Arunachal Pradesh does not alter this fact.”
Why sudden renaming?Advertisement
Clearly the reason behind this sudden unilateral action by China is aimed to provide more steam & legitimacy to the new Land Border Law that came into effect on 01 Jan 2022. China has turned ‘territorial dispute’ into ‘sovereignty dispute’ by adopting Land Border Law. The new land border law, introduced by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) during the 31st meeting of the Standing Committee of the 13th National People’s Congress on 23 October 2021, is the latest attempt by China to unilaterally delineate and demarcate territorial boundaries with India and Bhutan.
As per the land boundary law, similar to the National Security Law passed with respect to Hong Kong, China will get extra-territorial legal precedence with respect to its land boundaries. Just as the National Security Law aims to punish anyone (globally) for instigating rebellion against the CCP in Hong Kong, the Land Boundary Law also aims to punish anyone that trespasses the unilaterally decided, delineated and demarcated boundaries of China.
China claims, “Zangnan has been China’s territory since the ancient times. Ethnic minorities such as the Moinba and Tibetan ethnic groups have lived and worked in this area for a long time, and many place names have been passed down".Advertisement
Going by the same logic, Kailash Mansarovar (also called Mount Kailash) has been a sacred place for Hindu pilgrimage since 3000 BC (approx. origin of Hinduism) much earlier than the spread of Buddhism and as such Indians have been visiting Kailash in huge numbers since then. The name ‘Kailash’ also is equally older than its Tibetan name ‘Gang Rinpoche’, implying that China should cede Mount Kailash to India.
Similarly, Yatung (close to Dokalam) was a trading centre before the PRC occupation of Tibet. It was a nodal point for the traders travelling between Lhasa and Kalimpong. The Indian government owned a building in this location with a substantial staff of Tibetan and Indian heritage who were forcefully expelled from the building by China after the occupation.
What’s in a name?
Of late, the Chinese govt has come under immense global as well as internal pressure due its numerous policies resulting in oppression of minorities, slowing down of economy as well as relations in immediate neighborhood. The Chinese attempt to alter the names of places in Arunachal looks like a political gimmick to assuage the sentiments of Chinese citizens who have recently started to show their exasperation discreetly over various policies of CCP regime under Xi Jinping.
Following the failures of coercion & military overtures in Ladakh, this unilateral step appears to be a corollary to the existing Salami Slicing policy. Though, the present action will have no tangible impact on India, what needs to be acknowledged that CCP has put up a desperate effort to add legitimacy to its claims in Arunachal behind the veil of new Border Laws and we are sure to see some more ‘nibbling’ attempts in future.
Interestingly after the strong rebuttal of MEA, the Indian Netizens took the center stage while getting into a ‘tit for tat’ game with China by giving Indian names to a number of Chinese cities. This psychological game played by China also fell flat on its face just like their earlier attempts of wielding force along our Northern Borders.
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