India, US Slam China’s Unrelenting Claim Over Arunachal Pradesh

By Tsering Choephel

DHARAMSALA, 4 April: “If I change the name of your house, will it become mine?” India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar said in response to Beijing’s release of 30 new names last week for areas within the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, which China has been blatantly claiming as its own, an assertion deemed illegal by India.

India’s External Affairs Minister made the remarks at a press conference on 1 April as he slammed Beijing for assigning their own invented names to places in Arunachal that he declared hold no merit. “If I change the name of your house, will it become mine? Arunachal Pradesh was an Indian state, is an Indian state, and will remain so in the future. Nothing will be gained by changing names,” he said.

This marks the fourth occasion on which Beijing has released a list of names for areas in India’s northeastern state. Designating it as South Tibet or Zangnam in Chinese, Beijing initially listed six places in Arunachal in 2017, followed by a second list of 15 places in 2021, and another with names for 11 places last year.

The latest list includes 11 residential areas, 12 mountains, four rivers, one lake, one mountain pass, and a piece of land, according to a report by the South China Morning Post.

Beijing persists in reinforcing its assertive claims over Arunachal Pradesh by incorporating it into its official maps and issuing stapled visas, rather than stamped ones, to Indian athletes from the state participating in events held in China.

This recent naming exercise for places in Arunachal Pradesh followed China’s protest against Modi’s visit and inauguration of the Sela Tunnel in the State last month. India’s External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal dismissed China’s protest, reiterating that “Arunachal Pradesh was, is, and will always remain an integral and inalienable part of India.”

Echoing the US government’s previous statement acknowledging New Delhi’s sovereignty over Arunachal Pradesh, the Biden administration on Tuesday condemned Beijing for inventing 30 names for places in Arunachal. “The United States strongly opposes any unilateral attempts to advance territorial claims through incursions or encroachments, military or civilian, across the Line of Actual Control (LAC),” a US State Department representative stated.

While it is unsurprising, it is noteworthy that ‘Tibet’ is not discussed concerning the border issue between India and China. Experts in the field emphasise that the history and issues surrounding Tibet are fundamental to understanding and, consequently, sustaining a resolution to the conflict.

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