- China had announced its own names for 6 places in Arunachal Pradesh
- India said inventing names does not make China's territorial claims legal
- Chinese move came weeks after Dalai Lama's visit to Arunachal Pradesh
The barb was officially described by China as a move to standardise in Chinese characters the names of six places. It came days after Beijing, fuming over the visit of the Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama to Arunachal Pradesh, declared that it would take further action to safeguard its sovereignty.
"Assigning invented names to towns of your neighbour does not make illegal territorial claims legal. Arunachal Pradesh is and will always be an integral part of India," External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Gopal Baglay told reporters here.
The names announced by China are Wo'gyainling, Mila Ri, Qoid ngarbo Ri, Mainquka, B mo La and Namkapub Ri. It is not clear which places in Arunachal Pradesh they correspond to. But China's state-run media had made clear that the names, put out by the Ministry of Civil Affairs, referred to locations in Arunachal Pradesh that China insists was a part of South Tibet.
Union Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu was equally dismissive. "Let them rename. How does it matter? It's like you renaming your neighbour. It does not change his name," he said.
The Chinese move came weeks after the 81-year-old Dalai Lama's visit to Arunachal Pradesh, his seventh since he arrived in Tawang in March 1959 that China wanted to be called off. New Delhi had rejected the demand, insisting that China was trying to create an "artificial controversy" over the spiritual leader visit. China had lodged a formal protest with India against the visit that it perceived would "undermine" Beijing's interests.