Indians give Chinese places hilarious names after China renames 15 places in Arunachal Pradesh

Indo-China border at Bum La Pass in the Zemithang circle. Image by Tabish Q via Wikimedia Commons. CC BY-SA 3.0.

Indo-China border at Bum La Pass in the Zemithang circle in Arunachal Pradesh. Image by Tabish Q via Wikimedia Commons. CC BY-SA 3.0.

After China announced standardized names for 15 places in the northeastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, India reacted strongly, saying that the state is an integral part of India and China does not have the right to rename places. However, Indians on Twitter rose to the occasion, naming Chinese places with Indian names in a hilarious engagement.

On December 30, 2021, the Chinese state-run Global Times reported that China's Ministry of Civil Affairs has standardized “based on sovereignty, history” in Tibetan, Chinese characters and Roman alphabet the names of 15 places in Zangnan (South Tibet) which consists of areas in Arunachal Pradesh. Among the changed names eight are residential areas, four are mountains, two are rivers and one is a mountain pass.

Indian journalist Ananth Krishnan said:

The McMahon Line

India considers that the legal national border with China is along the the McMahon Line in Arunachal Pradesh, which was decided by representatives of Tibet and British India as part of the 1914 Simla Convention. However, China does not recognize this, saying that Tibet was not independent of China and there was no Chinese representative at the convention.

In Chinese maps, around 65,000 sq km of the territory south of the McMahon line is shown as part of the Tibet Autonomous Region (South Tibet); the dispute has led to border skirmishes over the past few decades.

In 2017, China first unilaterally renamed six “official” names for places in Arunachal Pradesh, allegedly to reaffirm the country's “territorial sovereignty” to the region. This new move to change 15 names came ahead of the new land border law, which took into effect on January 1, 2022. Under this law, China is mandated to “take measures to safeguard territorial integrity and land boundaries,” among other things.

The Indian Ministry of External Affairs, however, stressed that China's actions do not change the fact that Arunachal Pradesh is an integral part of India. Indian journalist Sidhant Sibal tweeted:

Memes on Twitter

Reacting to the news, Indians took to Twitter to retaliate with made-up Indian names for Chinese places.

Twitter user Harpreet (@CestMoiz) shared the news with some renaming invention of a local Whatsapp community:

Beijing as Bhujang Nagar, Tibetian capital Lahsa as Laxmangarh and Tibet as Tivatianagar!

Another user, Bhargavi (@smna17), chimed in naming Xinjiang Sivaganga Nagar. Harpreet's thread contained more hilarious naming such as New Chandigarh for Chengdu, Hanumangarh for Hubei and Gandhinagar for Guangzhou.

Twitter user Bishwa mentioned:

Meanwhile, Facebook user Sardhon Teron commented on a piece of related news on the Northeast Today Magazine's Facebook page.

If Arunachal is an integral part of India, forget about 15 names even 1000 names doesn't matter. It is us who give names not China. China is just playing (a) propaganda game.

Twitter user Purnima Andrade commented:

User देशी छोरा (Country boy) from Hyderabad tweeted:

User S. Vasudeva Rao tweeted:

Sudha Ramachandran mentions in The Diplomat that a similar tactic was used by Beijing on the disputed South China Sea. In April 2020, China announced the Chinese names of 80 islands and reefs in the South China Sea in addition to their coordinates to mark out claims. Ramachandran predicts that the Chinese government is expected to announce more lists in the coming months.

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