ON THE WEB, 21 April 2017
Chinese experts said that the standardization of the names of six places in South Tibet is a move to reaffirm the country’s territorial sovereignty to the disputed region.
China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs announced on April 14 on its website that it had standardized 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.
The official names of the six places using the Roman alphabet are Wo’gyainling, Mila Ri, Qoidêngarbo Ri, Mainquka, Bümo La and Namkapub Ri.
“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,” Xiong Kunxin, a professor of ethnic studies at Beijing’s Minzu University of China, told the Global Times on Tuesday.
Xiong added that the legalization of the regions’ names is a part of the rule of law.
“These names have existed since ancient times, but had never been standardized before. Therefore, announcing the names is like a remediation,” Guo Kefan, a research fellow at the Tibet Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Tuesday.
Standardizing the names from the angles of culture and geography could serve as a reference or leverage when China and India negotiate border issues in future, Guo said.
The South Tibet region is located alongside China’s southwestern border and India’s northeastern border where Sino-Indian border disputes are centered.
In 1987, India abruptly announced that it was officially designating the region as “Arunachal Pradesh,” but the Chinese government has neither recognized India’s occupation of the region, nor the legitimacy of the province.
On April 5, China’s foreign ministry criticized India for provoking a border conflict by inviting the 14th Dalai Lama to the controversial eastern part of the China-India border, an action which the ministry said will “bring no benefits to India.”
The Dalai Lama’s visit to “Arunachal Pradesh,” called South Tibet in China, severely damages China’s interests and Sino-Indian relations, Hua Chunying, a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, told media at a daily briefing in April 6.
Hua added that arranging his activities in this sensitive area where China and India have territorial disputes not only violates India’s commitment on Tibet-related issues, but also fuels the border dispute.”
This is not the first time that the Dalai Lama has visited South Tibet or referred to the region as Indian territory, which means he is committed to separating the nation, Zhu Weiqun, head of the Ethnic and Religious Affairs Committee of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, told the Global Times in a previous interview.