Explained: China’s border law and India

What is the news?

China’s new law on land borders, passed on October 23, has come into effect from 1st Jan 2022.

This has happened at a time when,

The border standoff in eastern Ladakh remains unresolved

China has renamed several places in Arunachal Pradesh as part of its claim on the Indian state, and

The Chinese Embassy in Delhi has written to Indian MPs, including a minister, who had attended a dinner reception hosted by the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile.

Must Read: China’s border law: The Why, what & what next
What is the new law?

The Standing Committee of China’s National People’s Congress passed the law for the protection and exploitation of the country’s land border areas.

It is encouraging the development of villages for civilians in the border areas by mandating the state to take measures to

strengthen border defence

support economic and social development

improve public services and infrastructure in such areas

encourage and support people’s life and work there

It asks the state to resolve land border related-affairs with neighbouring countries through negotiations.

The law lays conditions under which the state can impose emergency measures, including border shutdown.

Why this law has been brought?

It reflects Beijing’s renewed concerns over the security of its land border while it confronts a range of unsettled disputes on its maritime front.

The Covid-19 pandemic has also highlighted the need for Beijing to exert greater control over its somewhat porous land border.

What are its implications for India?

Although the law is not meant specifically for India, it is bound to have some impact.

China and India share a disputed 3,488-km boundary, the third longest among China’s 22,457-km land boundaries with 14 countries. Besides India, Bhutan (477 km) is the only other country with which China has a disputed land border.

India-China relations: Beijing appears to be signaling determination to resolve the border disputes on its preferred terms.

Some experts feel the new law will make China stick to its position, in the ongoing standoff as well as in the resolution of the larger boundary issue. Others feel the new law is only a tool China government will use if it wants, as its actions have been aggressive even before this law.

As per Gautam Bambawale, who was India’s ambassador to China in 2017-18 “the Chinese are clearly indicating that they are tired of trying to resolve the boundary or the LAC through negotiations; they’re indicating they’ll do it through use of force.

As per Retired Army Major General Ashok Kumar the new law is the “latest attempt by China to unilaterally delineate and demarcate territorial boundaries with India and Bhutan”.  

India requires a comprehensive solution to tackle implications of this law and not just an approach focused on militarised solution alone. 

Source: This post is based on the article “Explained: China’s border law and India” published in The Indian Express on 3rd Jan 2022. 

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