News and Views on Tibet

India renames over 30 places in Tibet in response to China’s Arunachal Pradesh claim

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By Tenzin Nyidon 

DHARAMSHALA, June 8: India has initiated the renaming of over 30 places in the so called Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) in Tibet, a move seen as a direct retaliation against China’s renaming of 30 places in the north-eastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh in March. 

The renaming initiative is spearheaded by the Indian Army’s information warfare division. A comprehensive list of the places to be renamed in TAR is expected to be released next week, coinciding with the inauguration of the new government in New Delhi. This effort involves extensive research conducted with the support of renowned research institutes, such as the Asiatic Society in Kolkata, to counter China’s narrative and bolster India’s territorial claims in the region.

“As and when that [the renaming campaign] happens, it will be tantamount to India reopening the Tibetan question,” said former Intelligence Bureau officer Benu Ghosh. “India has accepted Tibet as part of China since it was forcibly occupied by Beijing, but now [the] Modi government seems prepared to change course to deflate the Chinese cartographical and nomenclature aggression.”

In March, the Chinese Ministry of Civil Affairs announced the renaming of 30 places with standardised geographical names along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), covering various locations in Arunachal Pradesh, which China refers to as “Zangnan.” This renaming included 11 residential areas, 12 mountains, four rivers, one lake, one mountain pass, and a parcel of land, with names provided in Chinese characters, Tibetan, and pinyin, the Roman alphabet version of Mandarin Chinese. 

India has consistently dismissed China’s attempts to rename places in Arunachal Pradesh, affirming that the state is an integral part of the nation. India maintains that the act of assigning “invented” names does not change the underlying reality of Arunachal Pradesh’s status. Then-External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said, “We have seen such reports. This is not the first time China has made such an attempt. We reject this outright.” He added, “Arunachal Pradesh is, has been, and will always be an integral and inalienable part of India. Attempts to assign invented names will not alter this reality.”

External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar on March 23 also dismissed China’s repeated claims on Arunachal Pradesh as “ludicrous” and stressed that the frontier state was a “natural part of India”. “This is not a new issue. I mean, China has laid claim, it has expanded its claim. The claims are ludicrous, to begin with and remain ludicrous today,” he said in response to a question on the Arunachal issue after delivering a lecture at the Institute of South Asian Studies of the National University of Singapore.

One Response

  1. Today, India is a rising power on the world stage. It has the respect of not only the Afro-Asian nations but is courted by most western democracies. It must not remain silent in the face of provocative Chinese pronouncements and baseless claims over its territory. For far too long, India has played second fiddle to the Chinese in its effort to befriend communist China but China has nothing but contempt for India. It was India’s crucial effort that finally made it possible for communist China to be admitted to the UN. India was the first non-socialist country to recognise communist China when it was a pariah on the world stage! Yet, today, it is communist China who is hell-bend to prevent India to be admitted as a Permanent member of the UN. It is communist China who is opposing India India’s membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) who are nations seeking to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons. It is communist China who is supporting terrorists who are held to be responsible for committing crimes against India. It is also occupying Indian territory of Aksai Hind. The biggest issue here is the Indo-Tibet border. As every Tibetan and Indian knows there was no border between India and China for centuries. In 1913-14, the Simla convention was held between Tibet, British India and Republican China. The whole purpose of the tripartite talk was to deal with Tibet’s border with India to the South and its border to the west with China. The border between India and Tibet was demarcated between the Tibetan delegation led by Lonchen Shatra and British India’s representative Henry MacMohan. It was also named the MacMohan line. To the west, with the help of Britain, Tibet secured the historical border of Tibet with China. In return for the British support of acknowledging the historical border between Tibet and China which includes all of Kham and Amdo as part of Tibet, the British exacted the ceding of Mon Tawang region (known as Arunachal Pradesh today) for commercial route to Tibet. Tibet ceded this area for British recognition of historical Tibet and also sale of British weapons to the Tibetan Government. Since Tibet was independent, it was a mutual agreement between British India and independent Tibet. The Chinese had nothing to do with this decision by Tibet. However, when it came to the discussion of Tibet’s border with China, Evan Chan, the Chinese plenipotentiary agreed but it was later not ratified by the Republican Government. The delegates of the three nations were together in discussion for six long months. The Chinese communist claim that a “secret deal was struck” between Tibet and British India without their knowledge is a pathological lie!!! India therefore must stand up aggressively to ensure the territorial integrity that was acquired through the Simla Treaty and must also accept the independent status of Tibet if it wants to legitimise the ownership of Arunachal Pradesh. The Dalai Lama has way back in 1970 said, that India cannot have both ways of claiming Arunachal as Indian territory but ignoring the independence of Tibet that made Arunachal Pradesh as part of British India. This is where India has danced with the proverbial proverb to have the cake and eat it too. In order to make Arunachal a lawful territorial acquisition, it is incumbent upon India to recognise Tibet as a sovereign country with “treaty making powers” as the British themselves put it in the preamble of the Simla Convention since India is the inheritor of British treaties and conventions.

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