Assam CM counters China over Tibet renaming row, favours India renaming 60 places


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Guwahati, April 2: Taking on the red dragon over its decision to give chinese names to 30 places in occupied Tibet, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa on Tuesday mooted the idea of India giving a “tit-for’tat” to their northern neighbour by announcing the geographical names of 60 places under Tibet that are administered by China.

The Assam chief minister, whose state is separated from China only by Arunachal Pradesh on the north, has a penchant for giving controversial statements on almost anything under the sun.

Sarma was reacting to the decision by China to rename places in Arunachal Pradesh, which is an integral part of India, and made this remark while interacting with reporters on the campaign trail for the Lok Sabha elections in Karbi Anglong district of the state.

Seeking a befitting reply from India against China, the Assam Chief Minister said, “My demand and request to the government of India is to release 60 geographical names of Tibet area administered by China. It should be tit for tat.”

Declining to comment any further, he said, “It is a policy matter of the Government of India, but if they have named 30, we should name 60.”

China’s ministry of civil affairs, which is responsible for naming administrative divisions, recently released the fourth list of standardised geographical names for locations and features in Arunachal Pradesh, which Beijing claims as Zangnan or part of southern Tibet.

India has consistently rejected such moves to rename places.

The chinese announcement has drawn widespread criticism from the country’s decision makers and politicians.

External affairs ministry spokesperson Randhir Jaiswal said: “China has persisted with its senseless attempts to rename places in the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. We firmly reject such attempts.”

He added, “Assigning invented names will not alter the reality that Arunachal Pradesh is, has been, and will always be an integral and inalienable part of India.”

External affairs minister S Jaishankar had bluntly rebuffed the Chinese move when he was asked about it by reporters on Monday. “If today I change the name of your house, will it become mine? Arunachal Pradesh was, is and will always be a state of India. Changing names does not have an effect,” he said.

In recent years China has been on a drive to rechristen dozens of locations and geographical features in with Chinese and Tibetan names in recent years.

It has issued lists of such names in 2017, 2021 and 2023.

Aa per Chinese state tun media, China’s ministry of civil affairs said the new names will be reflected on official maps later this year.

The fourth list of names was issued by China on Saturday, weeks after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh to inaugurate the Sela Tunnel, built at an altitude of 13,000 feet, as part of efforts to boost infrastructure along the Chinese frontier amid a military standoff in Ladakh sector of the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

The tunnel will facilitate the speedier movement of troops in the strategic region.

The external affairs ministry had rejected China’s baseless claims on Arunachal Pradesh following Modi’s visit to the region and said such moves would not change the position on the ground.

The fourth list includes 11 residential areas, 12 mountains, four rivers, a lake, a mountain pass and a piece of land, and covers more parts of Arunachal Pradesh than the previous lists issued in the past seven years.

The standoff on the LAC has sent India-China ties into freefall, with India repeatedly underscoring that the bilateral relationship cannot be normalised without peace and tranquillity on the border

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