Editorial: China’s Renaming Spree

Once again, China has unleashed its renaming spree, targeting Arunachal Pradesh, or as they call it, Zangnan. They seem to have made a hobby of it, having now renamed 30 places, a feat they have achieved four times over. Their first attempt in 2017 saw the renaming of a mere six places, followed by a bolder move in 2021 with 15 more. And just when you thought they’d run out of steam, in April 2023, they dropped another 11 names like it’s just another day at the office. They label this charade “standardisation of geographical names”, a term that probably sounds better in Mandarin. The masterminds behind this operation hail from China’s Civil Affairs department, whose primary goal seems to be poking India in the ribs. However, will this endeavour serve any real purpose? External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar doesn’t seem to think so, pointing out that changing a name doesn’t magically change ownership.

China’s persistent poking at Arunachal Pradesh stems from its displeasure over Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s gallivanting around the region, inaugurating roads and tunnels. But let’s face it, China’s antics are about as effective as a cat trying to catch a laser pointer. If they couldn’t snatch “Zangnan” back in 1962 during their ill-fated tango with India, what makes them think they stand a chance now? It’s like bringing a butter knife to a gunfight. Yet, we can’t fault China for trying. After all, it’s in their DNA to claim territories left, right, and centre. From Vietnam to Myanmar, Nepal to Bhutan, they’ve got a dispute for every neighbour. They may have patched things up with Russia and Mongolia, but they still can’t resist using territorial disputes as their favourite pastime. But let’s be real here, Arunachal Pradesh is as Indian as butter chicken and Bollywood. No amount of renaming will change that.

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