The Indo-China border dispute has for long posed a threat to the security of both countries. The 3488 km disputed territory along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), known as Arunachal Pradesh, is currently being administered by New Delhi. However, time and again, the Chinese have outstretched their claim that the disputed territory is a part of South Tibet with close Buddhist links between the two regions. While in the past, several efforts have been made to solve the issue no major success has been achieved.
As an apparent retribution to the Dalai Lama’s visit to the disputed land, China has unilaterally renamed six places in Arunachal Pradesh. The announcement was made by the civil affairs ministry right after a nine-day high profile visit of the Tibetan spiritual leader. According to the Global-Times, a state run tabloid, “China’s civil military affairs has ‘standardised in Chinese characters, Tibetan and Roman alphabet the names of six places in South Tibet, which India calls Arunachal Pradesh, in accordance with the regulations of the State Council.’” The official names of the six places using the Roman alphabet are Wo’gyainling, Mila Ri, Qoidêngarbo Ri, Mainquka, Bümo La and Namkapub Ri.
The Chinese government and the state media had warned India about the consequences for allowing the Dalai Lama to visit Arunachcal Pradesh. But India, took China’s indications lightly and refuted their claim that the spiritual leader was free to travel across the country. Unsurprisingly, the Chinese felt betrayed by the Indian authorities and insecurity began to seep in.
Nevertheless, the strategy of standardizing the names is viewed by many as China’s reaffirming territorial sovereignty over the disputed land. Instead of resolving the dispute, the Chinese are hardening their stand and claims on Arunachal Pradesh. In fact, they are planning to carry out a second census of names of localities with the main goal to standardize names in ethnic languages.
These efforts will certainly have serious consequences in the near future. While, both the countries share a mutual feeling of hostility towards each other, the renaming process will only make matters worst. The insecurity is building and India will definitely retaliate to China’s strategy to claim sovereignty on Arunachal Pradesh. The Indian government is already fighting a disputed border conflict with Pakistan on Jammu and Kashmir, which has not been pleasant. Time and again, there have been insurgencies and rebellions in the beautiful valley, killing hundreds. However, the dispute with China can take a more dangerous turn. Fighting a rising global power will unquestionably be difficult with serious ramifications for India. At the same time, China should not underestimate India’s capabilities. Both the countries are strong enough to wage a militarized war against the other, if need be. Therefore, instead of hardening their approach, both countries need to resolve the issue peacefully. If the possibility seems stark, they can take the route of mediation by inviting an un-biased nation to help arrive at a solution. The issue can possibly escalate to a conflict between Indo-China and, henceforth, all appropriate measures need to be taken to avoid that conflict.
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