China has issued standardised spellings of the names of six places in a region disputed with India, in what China’s foreign ministry said on Wednesday was an assertion of sovereignty.
China was upset when exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, whom it considers a dangerous separatist, visited the contested stretch of land on the India-China border this month.
Arunachal Pradesh is an eastern Himalayan region administered by New Delhi but claimed by China as Southern Tibet.
Last week, China’s civil affairs ministry released a list of six places in the region with what China considers to be their formal names, in Chinese, Tibetan and English.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said the move was appropriate and reflected the names used by Chinese ethnic groups, such as the Tibetans, over a long time.
“These names also reflect, and explain from one aspect, that China’s territorial claims on Southern Tibet have an obvious historical, cultural and administrative jurisdiction basis,” Lu told a daily news briefing.
Indian officials have dismissed China’s criticism of the Dalai Lama’s second visit to Arunachal Pradesh in eight years, saying he is a spiritual leader who has a devoted following in the region.
The Dalai Lama, who fled to India from Tibet in 1959 following a failed uprising against Chinese rule, says he wants genuine autonomy for his remote homeland rather than independence.
Despite efforts by China and India to improve ties over recent years, deep suspicions persist, especially over their border dispute.