China has issued an official order to ‘standardise’ the Chinese language names of six towns in Arunachal Pradesh, in what officials described was a move to ‘reaffirm’ Chinese claims. The order to issue standardised Chinese names for towns in Arunachal Pradesh is seen as a move to reaffirm Chinese territorial claims, even if the move is purely symbolic.
State media reported on Wednesday the order was issued by the Ministry of Civil Affairs on April 14. The move came nine days after China summoned the Indian envoy in Beijing Vijay Gokhale and issued a demarche to protest the Dalai Lama’s week-long visit to Arunachal Pradesh, which China claims as “South Tibet”. China then warned of repercussions.
Why Did China Choose to Standardise the Names of 6 Places?
Chinese experts said the move to standardise the names of six places on the Arunachal Pradesh map was aimed to ‘reaffirm Chinese sovereignty’ and ‘could serve as a reference or leverage when China and India negotiate border issues in future’. The Ministry of Civil Affairs in Beijing issued ‘standardised [names] in Chinese characters, Tibetan and Roman alphabet the names of six places in South Tibet, which India calls Arunachal Pradesh, in accordance with the regulations of the State Council”, reported the Communist Party of China-run Global Times.
‘The official names of the six places using the Roman alphabet are Wo’gyainling, Mila Ri, Qoidengarbo Ri, Mainquka, Bumo La and Namkapub Ri,’ the order said.
Xiong Kunxin, a professor of ethnic studies at the Minzu University of China in Beijing, told the Global Times: ‘The standardization came amid China’s growing understanding and recognition of the geography in South Tibet. Naming the places is a step to reaffirm China’s territorial sovereignty to South Tibet.’
‘These names have existed since ancient times, but had never been standardised before. Therefore, announcing the names is like a remediation,’ added Guo Kefan, a research fellow at the Tibet Academy of Social Sciences.