June 12, 2024

General Studies Paper 2

Context: China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs released new names for 11 places in Arunachal Pradesh under the fig leaf of Standardizing Geographical Names in “Zangnan” (a bogus term invented by China to claim that Arunachal Pradesh is “Southern Tibet”).

China’s steps of naming places:

  • Media reports: names include:
    • two residential areas
    • five mountain peaks
    • two rivers
    • two other areas”.
  • In 2017, China had ‘renamed’ six places that lie in Arunachal Pradesh.
  • In 2021, China standardized the names of 15 places, including population centers, mountains, rivers and mountain passes.

Location of places:

  • Some of the places are located along the Pangchen-Tawang-Jang-Sela axis running down from the Line of Actual Control
  • Near old Buddhist pilgrimage circuits near Taksingin Upper Subansiri district
  • Mechuka-Tato tehsil in West Siang
  • Towards the Lohit and Anjaw districts, near Walong.

Other steps around the globe by China:

  • In 2020, China gave names to 80 geographical features in the Paracels and Spratlys in the South China Sea(maritime disputes with several states).
  • In 1983,it had named 287 geographical features in the South China Sea.
  • Using the term “Diaoyutai” for the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea in the 1950s, even before raking up the Senkaku issue with Japan.

What is Chinese modus operandi?

  • It is to lay the groundwork through fictional renaming of alien territories as a basis for sham “historical” claims which are then pursued using the warfares” strategy of:
    • Waging propaganda
    • Psychological and legal warfare.
  • Naming several under-sea features in the Indian Ocean using the names of Chinese musical instruments.

Legislation for naming by China:

  • Geographical Name Regulation in 1986 designed to regulate naming, renaming, and standardization exercises.
  • Amended rule in 2022.These pieces of legislation mainly dealt with naming, renaming, and standardizing names within China,
    • They also cover several alien territories claimed by China.
  • New Coast Guard Law in 2021,to take necessary measures, including the use of force, to safeguard “sovereignty”.
  • New law on the protection and exploitation of the country’s land border areas in 2022: This step has the effect of converting the boundary dispute with India into a sovereignty issue.

Changes around India-China border by China:

  • China launched the construction of dual-purpose villages, the Xiaokang villages, in areas adjacent to the border with India, from Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh.

Historical background:

  • Tibet And Its History by Hugh Edward RichardsonQing presence in Tibet began to emerge around 1720.
  • After Chinese intervention in the internecine succession struggle following the death of the Sixth Dalai Lama (1683-1706).
    • Therefore, there is absolutely no basis to the Chinese claim over Tawang, or any other part of Arunachal Pradesh
    • on the grounds that it is the birthplace of the Sixth Dalai Lama.
  • A study of the 1960 reports of the officials of the two sides on the boundary question reveals the vague, patchy and superficial nature of “evidence” proffered by the Chinese side in support of Beijing’s boundary claims.
  • Arunachal Pradesh (formerly North-East Frontier Agency (NEFA), is home to various tribes that have historically been a part of India’s civilisational heritage.
    • Most of its populace has been historically oriented towards the Assam plains.
    • The tribes were in regular contact with the Ahom power in Assam, including for the grant of rights to levy the Posha from the plains people in the adjacent areas.
  • Some tribes, such as the Monpas, have professed Buddhism, others follow animistic practices.
    • Some tribes practice a form of Vaishnavism.
  • The Mahabharata, the Ramayana, the Kalika Purana, the Vishnu Purana, the Yogini Purana, and Kalidasa’s Raghuvamsa have references, indication of the inclusion of these tribal tracts in the collective consciousness and cultural moorings of ancient India.
    • These sources have indications about the boundaries of the kingdoms of Pragjyotisha and Kamarupa, whose limits appeared to include the whole of Arunachal Pradesh.
  • The Shiva Linga in Ziro, Parshuram Kund, and the temple ruins of Malinithan, which are connected to the legends of Parashuram, Rukmini, Bhishmaka and Sishupala, show an ancient Hindu influence in the region.
  • Some Mishmis consider themselves to be the descendants of King Bhishmaka
    • Some Akas claim their descent from King Bhaluka.
  • Archaeological finds have unearthed silver coins and inscriptions in the Arabic script at Bhalukpong, linked to a Muslim ruler of Bengal.
  • The architecture of many forts, such as those at Bhalukpong, Ita and Bhismaknagar (built between the 10thand 16th centuries).
    • It is heavily influenced by the architectural principles of fort construction found in the Ramayana, the Mahabharata, and Arthashastra.
    • These forts were frontier posts of the security system that was prevalent in the Brahmaputra Valley.

Dispute between India and China in 1950’s:(territorial dispute):

  • Whole of Aksai Chin claimed by India
  • Whole of NEFA(now Arunachal Pradesh) is claimed by China.

Present disputes:

  • Western sector (Ladakh)(China is seeking claims).
    • Trig Heights in the Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO) area
    • Demchok in the south
    • The Depsang Bulge
    • Galwan
    • Pangong Lake and Hot Springs
  • Middle (central sector):
    • Barahoti pasture north of Chamoli in Uttarakhand
  • Eastern sector (Arunachal Pradesh):
    • The international boundary and the LAC are defined by the 1914 McMahon Line
    • China seeks to make inroads:
      • Tawang sector
      • Upper Subansiri region
      • Tri-junction with Myanmar.


  • The LAC between India and China, is frequently open to challenge by either side.
  • Areas along the LAC have been patrolled by both sides in the past.
  • The Chinese ingress in Sumdorong Chu valley in the Tawang sector in 1986-87 resulted in a close confrontation that lasted eight years.
  • In 1995, two sides pulled back: India relocating its Jayaand Negi posts on the south side of the Hathungla-Lungrola ridgeline

Way Forward

  • There is no other comparable influence of any other culture or history on Arunachal Pradesh as a whole.
    • The State represents the finest of India’s cultural and civilisational heritage.
  • India should reject China’s charade of giving Chinese names to places in Arunachal Pradesh
    • It should also assign Indian names to places and territories under the illegal occupation of China.
    • Aksai Chin, for example, may be called Akshaya Chinha — which means an “everlasting symbol” (of India).
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