Thread of Beads: An analysis of China’s renaming of 62 locations in the Indian State of Arunachal Pradesh since 2017

Tenzing Dhamdul, Tenzin Sherap and Tenzin Younten

by Team FNVA
Thread of Beads: An analysis of China’s renaming of 62 locations in the Indian State of Arunachal Pradesh since 2017

The issue brief delves into the contentious matter of China’s renaming of 62 locations in Arunachal Pradesh, India, which has escalated tensions between the two countries. This renaming, culminating in the release of an official map of South Tibet (Zangnan) by the Chinese Ministry of Civil Affairs on March 30, 2024, marks the latest development in a series of exercises aimed at asserting Chinese influence in the region.

The document highlights the significance of this renaming exercise within the broader context of Indo-China relations, drawing parallels to China’s strategic moves in the Indo-Pacific region, where it has established a “String of Pearls” to extend its influence. By standardising names and issuing official maps, China seeks to solidify its territorial claims and potentially pave the way for future administrative control.

Referred to as the ‘Thread of Beads’, this renaming strategy underscores China’s systematic efforts to encroach upon Indian sovereignty and establish a foothold in Arunachal Pradesh. This has been accompanied by longstanding tensions, including the issuance of stapled visas to residents of Arunachal Pradesh by China, indicating a pattern of provocations and challenges to India’s territorial integrity.

The brief outlines how China’s actions have far-reaching implications for India’s national security and its long-term development goals, particularly the vision for Viksit Bharat (2047). By propagating narratives about the alleged illegality of Indian occupation in South Tibet, Chinese media exacerbates tensions and increases the likelihood of confrontation in the region.

Drawing from open-source materials, including official communications from Beijing and trending Chinese articles, the brief provides insights into the motivations behind China’s renaming endeavours. Satellite imagery and official Indian government data are used to analyse the impact of these exercises on the ground, highlighting trends and patterns across the four renaming exercises conducted by China. With the case study of Tibet and Bhutan carried in understanding how China carries out these exercises to eventually annex and even occupy sovereign territory.

In conclusion, the issue brief underscores the gravity of China’s renaming efforts in Arunachal Pradesh and their broader implications for regional stability and India-China relations. It calls for a nuanced understanding of China’s long-term strategic objectives and emphasizes the need for proactive measures to safeguard India’s territorial integrity and national security interests.

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