The recent times have witnessed China inventing fictional names for Arunachal Pradesh that simply did not exist before. A total of 15 provinces in the state have been given new names by China which led some to take a deep look into the matter. The names pertain to eight residential districts, four mountain summits, two rivers, and one mountain pass.
China has “standardized” the designations of 15 locations in Arunachal Pradesh, an Indian state bordered by Bhutan and Burma that the Chinese leadership has tried to claim and forcefully encroached on for decades.
Nevertheless, Arindam Bagchi, a representative for the Indian Foreign Ministry, stated that giving fictional Chinese names to areas in the state will not change the fact that Arunachal Pradesh is and will always be an “integral part” of India.
At the peak of it’s power, the British Empire covered more than a quarter of the world. To rule over the natives and extract their resources, the officers of the East India Company segregated the populations into different regions and effectively tookover the local trade.
Overtime these imaginary lines were accepted as national and international boundaries. But when they drew the borders, they drew the conflict within it; with bloodshed. It is no coincidence that the major hotspots of terrorism in the world today are areas of colonial tinkering. One such case is the many forgotten partition of Northeast India, which sowed the seeds of the crisis we see
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Following the Sino–Indian conflict in 1962, ties between the two countries worsened, and boundary tensions arose. With the Doklam stalemate in 2017 and the violent incident in the Galwan Valley in 2020, hostilities have risen dramatically in recent years.
The NEFA (North East Frontier Agency) was renamed Arunachal Pradesh, a federally regulated region or Union territory, by India in 1972, and it was granted statehood under the Indian constitution in 1987.
Nonetheless, China has disputed the province since 2006 and referred to Arunachal Pradesh as “Zangnan,” or South Tibet. On December 29, the Chinese Ministry of Civil Affairs announced that 15 locations in “Zangnan” had been given legal Chinese names. The declaration came just a few days before China’s new land border regulation went into effect on January 1.
According to the Chinese state-run news agency Global Times, the “standardized” names pertain to eight residential districts, four mountain summits, two rivers, and one mountain pass.
Together with naming the area, the Chinese regime established an administrative framework for the area, which is divided into Chinese counties and prefectures.
These consist of Sengkezong and Daglungzong in Cuona County of Shannan Prefecture; Mani’gang, Duding, and Migpain in Medog County of Nyingchi Prefecture; Goling and Damba in Zayu County of Nyingchi Prefecture; and Mejag in Lhunze County of Shannan Prefecture.
China’s statements on Arunachal Pradesh originated in 2006, when then-Chinese Ambassador to India Sun Yuxi declared that “The whole of Arunachal Pradesh is Chinese territory,” ahead of then-Chinese President Hu Jintao’s formal visit to India.
Frank Lehberger, a sinologist who specialises on CCP policy in Tibet and a senior fellow at the Indian think tank Usanas Foundation, likened China’s efforts to Soviet leader Joseph Stalin’s development and refinement of “death by cartography.”
Stalin himself tried to alter boundaries in the Fergana Valley in Central Asia to guarantee that almost all former Soviet republics in that region remained reliant on the Soviet Union and would be rattled by inter-ethnic warfare if they attempted to proclaim independence.
Delimitation exercises, often known as “lying maps,” were used by Stalin, according to Lehberger, to automatically cause social upheaval in the event of the Soviet Union’s disintegration.
“Stalin drew those maps of the internal borders in the Soviet Union in such a way that they could not be detangled in case of the collapse of the Soviet Union and that border wars and civil wars would ensue almost automatically,”
Lehberger said. “He got his wish. It happened there twice in 1990 and 2010, at the border of Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, as well as in 2008 in Georgia, 2014 in Crimea, and 2021 in Armenia.”
He went on to say that Itanagar, the state capital of Arunachal Pradesh, does not appear on old or current Chinese maps or official lists of place names in Arunachal Pradesh.
The Epoch Times was able to discover the following localities from the 15 newly named ones by China on Google Earth: Duding (Tuting in India), Mani’gang (Monigong), Sengkezong (Senge), Daglungzong (Taklung Dzong), Migpain (Mipi H.Q. ), Goling (Goiliang), and Damba (Dhanbari).
Whereas one place is listed as Mejag in Shannan Prefecture’s Lhunze County (also known as Meyaba Rai), Lehberger dubbed it a hoax because Google Earth reveals the entire area is covered in thick mountain woods. There are no structures or infrastructure where civilians may reside indefinitely.
The Chinese ministry issued the initial group of six amended designations for sites in Arunachal Pradesh in 2017, in what Indian media described as a punitive step in response to Dalai Lama’s visit. The state is also a center for Vajrayana Buddhism, with the Tawang monastery, one of Asia’s largest Buddhist monasteries, dating back four centuries.
According to Lehberger, China’s endeavour to bestow names to localities in Arunachal Pradesh commenced well before Sun Yuxi’s statement, in the early 2000s.
Lehberger, who already has devoted years studying Chinese maps of Tibet and Arunachal Pradesh, published a 2005 map from an official Chinese atlas, which shows the administration’s “invented names” for places in Indian jurisdiction.
“Here next to the nonexistent Itanagar on the Chinese map, you find only tiny ‘villages’ with fake names like ‘Ta-geng-si’ or ‘Duo-li.’ Similar sounding Indian place names do not appear anywhere in the vicinity of [the Arunachal Pradesh state capital of] Itanagar on Google Earth,” he said.
The position of the state capital’s eastern suburb of Doimukh, he added, seems to be the only circumstantial evidence provided by Chinese atlases supporting its existence. On several Chinese maps, the Chinese phonetic spelling of this town is Duo-Yi-Mu-ke. He described it as a “deliberate attempt to distract” away from the establishment of the capital city, that has a population of around 65,000 people and houses Arunachal Pradesh’s legislative assembly.
Chinese maps do not “look so empty for ordinary Chinese, who have no clue that Arunachal belongs to India,” he claimed, because landmarks in the Indian state are filled in. Because Itanagar is larger than the “supposed county seat of Cuona,” from which the territory is “supposedly” managed, the CCP refuses to acknowledge its existence as a metropolis in so-called South Tibet or Zangnan.
Although neither “Ta-geng-si” nor “Duo-li” are among the 15 or so “standardized” names of localities in what China claims to be “Zangnan,” Lehberger believes that the 2005 map indicates that the CCP and its map-making departments had previously formally sanctioned those two nonexistent places.
Another nonexistent settlement, reportedly south of the Dafla Range and a few kilometres southwest of the Dikrong Power House, was mentioned by Lehberger. While it is designated as “Wupang” on the official Chinese map of Tibet from 2005, it does not appear on Google Earth.
“Call it the logic of the Chinese lies,” he remarked, noting that “name standardization” is simply the communist regime’s method of making those place names official on the global stage, a procedure it has been discreetly embarking on for more than two decades.
“People in India must wake up to what [the Chinese regime has] been doing already for decades.”
He suggested that India ‘s administration reconsider its 2003 collaborative declaration with China, in which it recognised the Tibet Autonomous Region as a constituent of the People’s Republic of China. Any attempt by China to utilise its boundary law to alter the line of actual control and take more territory from India would hypothetically be rendered “null and void.” The precedent for the cancellation of such a pronouncement has already been established—by the Chinese leadership.
Whereas the reports of Chinese intrusion into northern India have made headlines in mainstream media, a large portion of Arunachal Pradesh has also been occupied by China. According to Mr Tapir Gao, the member of parliament of BJP from Arunachal East, China is building concrete bridges, hydro electric projects, helipads 12 kms from the demarcated McMahon Line inside Arunachal Pradesh.
There is a serious concern among Indian security experts that after almost 50 years the Indian government is now conceding to the 1959 Chinese border offer that was rejected by then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru calling it a deceptive tactic to annex foreign territory.
Recently, according to reports, China is deploying machinegun-wielding killer robots to Tibet, its western desert regions while there exists a conflict with India because Chinese soldiers are suffering with the high altitude.
According to Indian media reports, dozens of autonomous vehicles capable of transporting both weapons and supplies are being dispatched to Tibet, with the bulk getting deployed in border areas wherein Chinese troops are engaged in a standoff with Indian troops.
“China in 2020 did unilaterally abrogate an internationally binding agreement on the status of Hong Kong, guaranteed by the U.N.,” he said. “So there is a precedent already and it was initiated by the Chinese leadership.
“This proves that the Chinese government and leadership are not willing to fulfill any international treaty obligations, be it with the UK regarding Hong Kong, or with India. Therefore, India should take this into account.”