Upping the ante with India, China has for the first time announced "standardised" official names for six places in Arunachal Pradesh, about a week after it lodged strong protests with India over the Dalai Lama's visit to the north-eastern frontier state.
The state media in Beijing said the move was aimed at reaffirming China's claim over Arunachal, which China claims as 'South Tibet'.
"China's ministry of civil affairs announced on 14 April that it had 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 central government," Global Times reported today.
The official names of the six places using the Roman alphabet are Wo'gyainling, Mila Ri, Qoidengarbo Ri, Mainquka, Bumo La and Namkapub Ri.
The India-China border dispute covers the 3,488 km-long Line of Actual Control (LAC). While China claims Arunachal Pradesh as South Tibet, India asserts that the dispute covers the Aksai Chin area, which was occupied by China during the 1962 war.
Special Representatives of the two sides have so far held 19 rounds of talks to resolve the boundary dispute.
China's move comes just days after the Dalai Lama's visit to Arunachal Pradesh, which was his seventh since he fled from Tibet through Tawang and sought refuge in India more than 50 years ago.
During the 81-year-old Tibetan spiritual leader's Arunachal Pradesh visit, China had warned India that it will take "necessary measures" to defend its territorial sovereignty and interests.
Commenting on the standardisation of the names of six places, Chinese experts said that it was a move to "reaffirm the country's territorial sovereignty to the disputed region", according to the daily.
"The standardisation came amid China's growing understanding and recognition of the geography in South Tibet. Naming the places is a step to reaffirm China's territorial sovereignty to South Tibet," Xiong Kunxin, a professor of ethnic studies at Beijing's Minzu University of China, was quoted as saying.
Xiong said that the legalisation of the regions' names is a part of the rule of law.
"These names have existed since ancient times, but had never been standardised before. Therefore, announcing the names is like a remediation," Guo Kefan, a research fellow at the Tibet Academy of Social Sciences, said.
Standardising the names from the angles of culture and geography could serve as a reference or leverage when China and India negotiate border issues in future, Guo said.
"The South Tibet region is located alongside China's southwestern border and India's north-eastern border where Sino-Indian border disputes are cantered," the report said.
It claimed that India "abruptly announced that it was officially designating the region as 'Arunachal Pradesh' but the Chinese government has neither recognised India's occupation of the region, nor the legitimacy of the province".
During the Arunachal Pradesh visit of the Dalai Lama, union minister of state for home affairs Kiren Rijiju, who accompanied the Tibetan spiritual leader, had asserted that that Arunachal Pradesh is "an inseparable part of India".
China had lodged a diplomatic protest with India over the visit and warned that it would have a negative impact on the efforts to resolve the border dispute.