Written By Darshan M (Grade 10)
China’s expansionism knows no bounds, first Doklam then eastern Ladakh, and now Arunachal Pradesh. China has now launched a new campaign to provoke India, it is renaming parts of Arunachal Pradesh, China is targeting eleven places in this state and issued new Chinese names for these places which are an integral part of Indian territory and India has hit back with a sharp response this episode began on 2nd of April.
The Chinese Ministry of civil affairs released a list it had eleven places with a map and all these places are in the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh and China is claiming all of these as Chinese territories. Beijing says these places are a part of what it calls Southern Tibet. They have a Chinese name of Arunachal Pradesh and Beijing calls it Zhangnan the new Chinese map that was released shows most of Arunachal Pradesh in China’s territory. These places include five mountain peaks, two land areas, two residential areas, two rivers, and one place near the capital city of Arunachal Pradesh Itanagar.
China is taking claim over these places by giving Chinese names to towns and this isn’t the first time they are doing this they tried this before in 2017 when Dalai Lama visited Arunachal Pradesh China didn’t like it and Beijing retaliated with a list that contained six Chinese names to Indian towns and then in 2021 China released another list this one had fifteen places and now in 2023 there’s a new list with eleven names on it, How does it help? What does China gain by giving Chinese names to Indian territories? Is it a way to build pressure and a way to needle India?
China’s justification for these provocations is unbelievable it states that they are “Standardizing geographical names” It is a carefully worded statement and it has one clear takeaway that this order came from the top authorities, China’s top leadership is the driving force behind this. China has made a unilateral declaration that violates India’s sovereignty. New Delhi has issued a firm statement, Ministry of External Affairs stated that “Arunachal Pradesh is, has been, and will always be an integral and inalienable part of India, and attempt to assign invented names will not alter this reality” so that’s a clear message from New Delhi and this statement like the similar statements in the past will not alter the reality that China claims the whole of Arunachal Pradesh.
This is a long-standing dispute India and China share a border that is 3488 kilometers long, this border is not demarcated and China misuses this fact. There are repeated flare-ups, the border is divided into three parts the western sector that’s near Ladakh, the middle part that covers Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand and the third area is the eastern sector around Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim. The boundary in the eastern sector is called the McMahon Line it is a de facto border that was drawn in the year 1914 during the British Raj. The famous Shimla convention that’s when leaders from Britain, China, and Tibet met, the convention was called to settle the boundary dispute at that time Tibet was still free and China was trying to push its claim on this region. India was still under British rule.
In Shimla, they presented to settle a border dispute but China refused to sign it because they said that they own Tibet and Tibet had no independent authority to enter into international agreements. China didn’t like that Tibet was being represented as a separate entity in this convention but Tibet was there and the draft was signed by two of the three parties. British government that ruled India signed it and the Tibetan government in Lhasa signed it. China objected to all of this specifically to the status of Tibet, but China did not object to the McMahon line and this is very important for 45 years the Chinese did not raise any formal objection to the McMahon line. Then in 1959, they shifted abruptly. In 1959 Zoo Lai was the Prime Minister of China and wrote to Jawaharlal Nehru stating that this line was decidedly illegal and is the origin of China’s claims over Arunachal Pradesh a flawed interpretation of history a version that suits China’s expansionist agenda.
During the 1962 war Chinese crossed the McMahon Line they made deep inroads into India but then they also retreated after announcing a unilateral ceasefire now almost six decades later China is reigniting the dispute it is changing names and staking claims to Arunachal Pradesh and the timing is typical. Every time there’s an important engagement in India the Chinese side provokes and this month India is hosting the defense ministers of the SCO the Shanghai Cooperation Organization both India and China are members and this year India holds the rotating presidency of this group.
China’s defense minister is expected to attend this meeting and the Chinese side is playing its old games and the question is what should India do? Should India reconsider the invite? Or should we host the Chinese and confront them with their claims? Whatever India chooses to do one thing is certain, silence won’t help China sees silence as a sign of weakness and only understands the language of strength. So Indian should use its presidency and its global clout to call out China’s provocations.
Featured Image Courtesy – The Economic Times