China today said its decision to name six areas in Arunachal Pradesh is its “lawful right” because the Himalayan state constitutes “South Tibet”, a claim India has rejected for decades in a border dispute.
In protest against the Dalai Lama’s visit to the border state earlier this month, China’s civil affairs ministry has released a list of six places in the region with what Beijing considers to be their formal names, in Chinese, Tibetan and English. New Delhi in response said yesterday that “every inch of Arunachal Pradesh” belongs to India. “Arunachal Pradesh is totally part and parcel of India. China has no business to name any of the districts,” said union minister Venkaiah Naidu. He asked if someone’s given name can be changed by a neighbour.
China warned India that the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader’s tour of Arunachal Pradesh would “severely damage” relations between the two countries. China considers the 81-year-old Dalai Lama a “dangerous separatist” who wants to free Tibet from China.
India said that his trip was to promote religious harmony and had no political connotation, while asserting that in any case, China has no right to interfere in India’s internal affairs.
In 1959, the Dalai Lama was a young monk when he fled Tibet over threats to his life after a failed uprising and trekked through the Himalayas for nearly two weeks, arriving in India through Arunachal Pradesh. He was allowed to set up his government-in-exile in the hill town of Dharamsala.
While releasing the new names, a Chinese government official said, “These names also reflect, and explain from one aspect, that China’s territorial claims on Southern Tibet have an obvious historical, cultural and administrative jurisdiction basis.”