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HomeIndiaChina should realise altering names doesn't change sovereignty

China should realise altering names doesn’t change sovereignty

China has launched ‘new’ names for 15 locations located in Arunachal Pradesh. Time for India to reassert its declare on Minsar close to Mt Kailash, and assist Thimbu in its claims of the eight Bhutanese enclaves positioned in Western Tibet

Since 1984, the Chinese language and Bhutanese officers have been assembly to debate their widespread border. The Bhutanese negotiators are often bullied by the massive ‘northern neighbour’ (because the Bhutanese favor to name China).

A number of years in the past, throughout a ‘dialogue’, the Chinese language facet gave a protracted presentation in regards to the names of the locations which, in accordance with them, proved that Bhutan had occupied Chinese language territory at a number of places. They began arguing that ‘la’ was a Chinese language phrase (it means ‘pass’ in Tibetan and Bhutanese, not in Chinese language). Even after the Bhutanese negotiators advised their Chinese language counterparts that it was not a Chinese language identify, the latter continued to insist that the postfix ‘la’ confirmed that the place belonged to China.

It’s then {that a} sensible senior Bhutanese official interrupted the Chinese language and requested: “What about Patia-la? Is it a Chinese place?” The Chinese language have been a lot taken abruptly that they stored quiet… at the least for a while.

This anecdote got here to thoughts once I learn that Beijing had launched the second batch of ‘new’ names for locations in Arunachal Pradesh. On 30 December, the Ministry of Civil Affairs in Beijing introduced that it had “standardised in Chinese characters, Tibetan and Roman alphabet the names of 15 places in Zangnan [they now call thus the southern part of Xizang or Tibet], in accordance with regulations on geographical names issued by the State Council, China’s cabinet.”


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Although China has by no means used this time period earlier than, ‘Zangnan’ might be an abbreviation of (Xi)Zang is Tibet and ‘Nan’ is ‘south’ in Mandarin. Why Beijing has used a Chinese language abbreviation for the realm and Tibetan names for the 15 places is just not very logical, however ‘logic’ is just not all the time the Chinese language forte lately.

The 15 locations

In line with The International Occasions, among the many official new names of 15 locations, which got with exact coordinates, eight have been residential areas, 4 have been mountains (‘ri’ or vary in Tibetan), two have been rivers (‘chu’) and one is a mountain cross (‘la’ for Sela, between West Kameng and Tawang districts).

It was the second batch of so-called standardised names of locations revealed by the ministry; the primary batch naming six locations was launched in 2017. I shall come again to it.

Opposite to what the Indian media wrongly talked about, the names will not be ‘invented’; they’re transcriptions of the Tibetan names for these 15 areas. It’s way more critical than ‘invented names’ as a result of by ‘proving’ that these locations had Tibetan names, China can come to the straightforward conclusion that they’ve been Tibetan locations previously and are due to this fact Chinese language.

The argument is tenuous, but it surely doesn’t cease China from utilizing it. It nevertheless offers a transparent message to India: No matter has been Tibetan (and even has a Tibetan identify) belongs to China. In the future, locations in Ladakh, Sikkim or Kinnaur can thus be claimed.

Lian Xiangmin, from the China Tibetology Analysis Centre in Beijing, defined to The International Occasions that “it is part of a national effort to standardise the management of place names. The places have existed for hundreds of years”.

By the way, the declare on the North-East Frontier Tracts (later Company or NEFA) being a part of the Chinese language territory dates solely from the tip of the Thirties, when the newly-created Xikang Province engulfed a few of these areas of the North East.

Lian mentioned, “It is a legitimate move and China’s sovereign right to give them standardised names. More standardised place names in the region will be announced in the future.”

One other so-called professional, Zhang Yongpan, from the Institute of Chinese language Borderland Research beneath the Chinese language Academy of Social Sciences, mentioned that these areas have been named by the central and native (Tibetan) governments “throughout history, as well as ethnic groups such as the Tibetan, Lhoba, and Monba who have long lived in the region”.

Traditionally, it’s once more fully fallacious. The transfer is seemingly a part of the implementation of the brand new Land Border Legislation, which got here into impact on 1 January 2022.

The International Occasions defined: “The eight residential places in the second batch are Sengkezong [Senge Dzong] and Daglungzong [Taklung Dzong] in Cona [Tsona] County of Shannan [Lhoka] prefecture, Mani’gang [Manigong], Duding [Tuting]and Migpain [Migpan] in Medog [Metok] County of Nyingchi [prefecture], Goling, Damba [Tampa] in Zayu [Zayul] County of Nyingchi, and Mejag [Mechag or Maja] in Lhunze [Lhuntse] County of Shannan.”

It thus continues for the mountains, rivers and a cross.

Why this combination of various locations is just not clear and why solely 15 names, if your entire State belongs to China (as claimed by Beijing).

The First Batch

Already in 2017, China had introduced ‘standardised’ names for six locations in Arunachal Pradesh. Why 4 years between the primary batch of six names and the current ones? At the moment, it appeared a infantile response to the just-concluded Dalai Lama’s go to to the state.

The Chinese language media then argued that Beijing’s goal was to reaffirm China’s declare over ‘South Tibet’. Curiously, a couple of days earlier, Beijing had began naming ‘Tawang’ as ‘Dawang’, in accordance with its pinyin spelling. Equally, Tuting in Higher Siang is known as ‘Duding’ and Taklung in West Kameng district is called Daklung; merely Chinese language individuals have problem announcing Tibetan phrases, significantly ‘Ts’.

In 2017, The International Occasions reported that Beijing had standardised in Chinese language characters, Tibetan and Roman alphabet the names of the six locations “in accordance with the regulations of the central government”.

Urgyeling, the birthplace of Tsangyang Gyaltso, the sixth Dalai Lama, a couple of kilometres south of Tawang city, grew to become Wo’gyainling. One understands the rationale why China is so connected to the place; Beijing wouldn’t wish to have the 15th Dalai Lama reborn within the space.

One other place was ‘Qoidengarbo Ri’, for ‘Chorten Karpo’ or ‘White Stupa’ in Tibetan; this referred to Gorsam Chorten, the one massive white stupa within the space (and the most important in Arunachal). It isn’t removed from Ziminthang, the tactical HQ of the 4 Infantry Division throughout the 1962 Warfare. ‘Ri’ refers to one of many ridges across the stupa.

Mainquka is Menchuka in Shi Yomi district. China was not glad that India simply landed a C17 Hercules transport plane within the space.

The place is Wuje?

China has renamed locations previously. Simply a few months after the signature of the notorious Panchsheel in April 1954, surrendering India’s rights in Tibet, China began intruding into India’s territory in Barahoti (in the present day Chamoli’s district of Uttarakhand). Quickly Beijing started to speak about a spot referred to as ‘Wuje’. It took time for Delhi to find that Wuje was the identical place as Barahoti; however for a few years, China managed to confuse Delhi. The explanation for the confusion was in all probability as a result of Beijing didn’t even know that Wuje/Barahoti was south of Tunjun-la, the primary cross within the space and due to this fact south of the watershed.

This didn’t deter China to proceed to say the realm as being Chinese language since immemorial instances. This altering of identify can be inconsequential, however within the current record two areas are near the McMahon Line: Maja/Mechag, south of Longju, the place a couple of months in the past, China constructed a brand new village in Indian territory, is included, so is Tuting (Duding) the place the Yarlung Tsangpo enters India within the Higher Siang district. India must be prepared for any eventualities in these areas.

And the time has maybe come for India to reassert its declare on Minsar, the Indian principality close to Mt Kailash and assist Thimbu in its claims of the eight Bhutanese enclaves positioned in Western Tibet.

The author is a famous writer, journalist, historian, Tibetologist and China professional. The views expressed are private.

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