Beijing has given Chinese names to 15 villages within the Indian territory in the disputed border region of Arunachal Pradesh to assert sovereignty over them, the Ministry of Civil Affairs has announced.
The government said it had "standardised" the names of 15 places in 'South Tibet' - Beijing's title for the region India calls Arunachal Pradesh - and gave them all formal Chinese names.
India has hit back at China for giving “invented” names to these villages, saying it would not alter their factual position.
“People in Arunachal Pradesh are really angry with the activities of China along the border. China has no authority to rename our territory,” BJP Member of Parliament Tapir Gao, from Arunachal Pradesh, told the Daily Telegraph.
"We condemn and reject renaming of our villages by China,” he said.
Tensions have been ramping up along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) that separates the superpowers since May 2020, when soldiers from each side engaged in hand-to-hand combat and beat each other with nail-studded bats. At least 20 soldiers died in the skirmishes.
India’s Ministry of External Affairs hit back and said, "Arunachal Pradesh has always been, and will always be an integral part of India. Assigning invented names to places in Arunachal Pradesh does not alter this fact."
On October 24th, China passed a new law that essentially empowers the state to improve infrastructure in border areas and enable the settlement of people. It will come into effect from 1st January. India sees China's new Land Borders Law as hardening Beijing's position.
“This is the latest in a series of Chinese provocations against India," one of India's leading strategic analysts on China, Brahma Challaney told Daily Telegraph.
"By inventing the name 'South Tibet' for India's Arunachal Pradesh state in 2006, China underlined the core issue in its ties with India — the Chinese occupation of Tibet.”
China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said "Southern Tibet is in China's Tibet Autonomous Region, and has historically been Chinese territory," adding the renaming came within "the scope of China's sovereignty".
The new law calls China's sovereignty and territorial integrity "sacred and inviolable" and enables Beijing to "take measures to safeguard the territorial integrity and land boundaries and guard against and combat any act that undermines territorial sovereignty and land boundaries."
As many as 50,000 Indian soldiers will stay on the border over the harsh winter for a second consecutive year amidst heightened tensions between the two countries.
Military sources said China has added a multiple launch rocket system and three additional artillery positions along the LAC near strategically important Siliguri Corridor, a narrow stretch of land (known as chicken’s neck) that links India’s northeastern states to the rest of India.