China renames 11 places in India’s most north-eastern state and claims sovereignty over it. Both India and the US reject the Chinese claim. But an increasingly assertive Xi Jinping is constantly talking of wars and wins
India has a new challenge –and headache –on its eastern frontier.
In its latest attempt to lay claims over Indian territory, China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs has standardized the names of 11 places in Arunachal Pradesh, which it referred to as “Zangnan, the southern part of Tibet.”
China has come up with the names of 11 places in Arunachal Pradesh in Chinese characters, Tibetan and pinyin according to the rules on geographical names issued by the State Council, China’s cabinet, Global Times reported. The Ministry announced the names of 11 places on Sunday and also gave precise coordinates, including two residential areas, five mountain peaks, two rivers and two other areas. China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs also listed the category of places’ names and their subordinate administrative districts, as per the news report.
Earlier, in December last year, the Indian government said that it has seen reports of China attempting to rename some places in Arunachal Pradesh “in its own language” and asserted that the border state has been and will always be an integral part of India.”
India has outrightly rejected China’s attempt to rename places of Arunachal Pradesh, Ministry of External Affairs official spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said. He asserted that Arunachal Pradesh will always be an integral part of India.
He further said, “Arunachal Pradesh is, has been, and will always be an integral and inalienable part of India. Attempts to assign invented names will not alter this reality.”
But, launching a scathing attack at the center over the “reports” of China renaming 11 places in Arunachal Pradesh, Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge on Tuesday said that China has renamed the country’s areas for the third time.
Taking to Twitter, Kharge said, “For the third time, China has dared to “rename” our areas in Arunachal Pradesh. April 21, 2017 — 6 places, December 30, 2021 — 15 places, April 3, 2023 — 11 places”. “Arunachal Pradesh is and will remain an integral part of India. After Galvan, the country is facing the consequences of Modi ji giving a clean chit to China,” he added.
New Delhi is facing more problems in the eastern sector, even with a friendly country like Bhutan. Reacting to the Bhutanese Prime Minister’s remarks on the Tri-junction between India, China and Bhutan that Bhutan also has an “equal” say on the issue, Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra said that India and Bhutan remain in close touch relating to both nations’ shared interests, including security interest.
In a media briefing by the Ministry of External Affairs on Tuesday, Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra reacted to the controversy after Bhutan’s statement on the “Chicken neck” between India, Bhutan and China. Bhutan seemingly took a stand regarding the trijunction between the three nations.
On asking how India would react to the Bhutanese PM’s statement, Kwatra said, “I would say that India and Bhutan remain in close touch relating to our shared interest, including security interest.”
Without addressing the Bhutanese Prime Minister’s remarks directly, the foreign secretary said that the national interests of India and Bhutan, and the interests of the relationship between India and Bhutan have some main points which are shared values, trust, mutual respect and close understanding and sensitivity to each other’s interests and concerns.
In another related development, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi reacted to the militarization of Myanmar’s Coco Islands and said that India keeps a constant watch on all developments concerning India’s security. And India takes all necessary measures to safeguard the same.
Ministry of External Affairs official spokesperson Arindam Bagchi on Tuesday asserted that Arunachal Pradesh will always be an integral part of India. Bagchi issued the statement after China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs came up with the names of 11 places in Arunachal Pradesh, which it referred to as “Zangnan, the southern part of Tibet.”
While speaking to the media on Thursday, Arindam Bagchi stated firmly that India keeps a constant watch on all developments with a bearing on national security. MEA spokesperson was asked about the Myanmar Islands in the Bay of Bengal, which have long been the subject of geopolitical intrigue. It is alleged that allegation that since the early 1990s, Myanmar has allowed a Chinese signals intelligence facility on the Coco Islands.
According to recent reports, satellite photographs of the Coco Islands have raised concerns for India about the increased activity. With the Coco Island developments, India may soon face a new airbase close by in a country increasingly tied to Beijing.
The militarization of the Coco Islands by the Tatmadaw, combined with the wider Chinese developments occurring inland, could pose a significant security challenge to India and its navy. The Andaman and Nicobar Islands provide India’s Eastern Fleet strategic depth in the Bay of Bengal and command approaches to the Strait of Malacca, according to an analysis by Chatham House.
Meanwhile, on the issue of Arunachal Pradesh, United States has strongly opposed China’s attempts to advance a claim over Indian territory by renaming localities. “This is another attempt by the Chinese claim on US, Indian territory. So, the United States, as you know, has recognized that territory for a long time and we strongly oppose any unilateral attempts to advance a territory claim by renaming localities. And so, again, this is something that we have long stood by a few things,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.
But after India outrightly rejected China’s attempt to rename places of Arunachal Pradesh, Beijing on Tuesday claimed its “sovereignty” over the region.
In a regular press conference, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said, “Zangnan (Arunachal Pradesh) is part of China’s territory. In accordance with relevant stipulations of the administration of geographical names of the State Council, competent authorities of the Chinese government have standardized the names of some parts of Zangnan. This is within China’s sovereign rights.”
In recent years, China has become more aggressive and assertive on its border with India. It is understood that the US had provided India with pre-emptive intelligence during last November’s confrontation in Arunachal Pradesh. The PLA has been probing and testing Indian resolve, no doubt seeing how well the Indian military might respond to a future conflict.
Chinese President Xi Jinping continues to urge the PLA to “be prepared to fight and win wars”, a phrase actually invoked by Hu Jintao in around 2009. One reason why Xi continually hammers this point is that the PLA is not fully prepared to fight a major war. However, the other chilling side of the coin is that Xi wants the PLA ready to take on any nation in the world militarily, including the US.
According to reports, Xi has already jailed the two most senior generals of the Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao era, while he arrested thousands more PLA personnel for alleged corruption. Of course, this is relatively easy to do given the engrained culture of graft within the institution.
Analysts believe that Xi launched an incredibly disruptive restructuring in 2015 that still causes reverberations today, yet it seems Xi still does not have confidence in the capability and loyalty of the PLA. The picture is a gloomy one – China, a global power with a slanted view of history and a hubris that believes it is in the ascendancy – is eager to assert its new-found military, economic and diplomatic prowess. According to some China watchers, not even the US is seen as too strong a foe by Xi, so of course it is willing to ride roughshod over any smaller nation that stands in its way. The result is multi-faceted tensions everywhere that China seeks to expand its reach and military presence, with Taiwan representing the crown jewel in Xi’s eyes. As Xi urges his PLA to “prepare to fight and win wars”, India seems to have a major problem on its hands.