Explained: What is China's new Land Boundary Law and what are India's concerns?
India broke its silence four days after China’s new land boundary law and urged Beijing to avoid actions that would unilaterally alter the situation in the border areas.
The new law does not confer any legitimacy to the China-Pakistan Boundary Agreement of 1963 that has consistently been termed illegal and invalid by India. India claims sovereignty over part of the land China and Pakistan had ceded in favour of each other through the deal, including the land in northern Kashmir and Ladakh.
According to a statement by India’s External Affairs Ministry, “We have noted that China has passed a new "Land Boundary Law” on 23 October 2021. The law states among other things that China abides by treaties concluded with or jointly acceded to by foreign countries on land boundary affairs. It also has provisions to carry out a reorganisation of districts in the border areas.”
“It may be noted that India and China have still not resolved the boundary question. Both sides have agreed to seek a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable resolution to the boundary question through consultations on an equal footing,” the statement added.
The statement further added, “We have also concluded several bilateral agreements, protocols and arrangements to maintain peace and tranquillity along the LAC in India-China border areas in the interim.”
“Such a unilateral move will have no bearing on the arrangements that both sides have already reached earlier, whether it is on the boundary question or for maintaining peace and tranquillity along the LAC in India-China border areas. We also expect that China will avoid undertaking action under the pretext of this law which could unilaterally alter the situation in the India-China border areas,” said the government.
China’s Land Boundary Law
The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress passed the law for the protection and exploitation of China’s land border areas. It stipulates that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the People’s Republic of China are sacred and inviolable.
The law further stipulates that the state shall take measures to strengthen the border defence and support economical and social development in border areas, along with improving public services and infrastructure, encouraging and supporting people’s life and work, and promoting coordination between border defence and social, economic development in border areas.
The legislation will come into effect from 1 January 2022.
India’s concern over China’s new legislation
The experts believe that the new law is aimed at strengthening the PLA’s role in pushing China’s 1959 LAC by facilitating greater powers for the management of border defences as China is improving the infrastructure in border areas and constructing villages along the border.
Moreover, a land boundary of 3,488km between India and China remains disputed. Both the countries are trying to de-escalate after the long standoff along the LAC. The two countries have withdrawn the front-line troops from the north and south banks of Pangong Lake and at Gogra but have been unable to withdraw troops at other friction points.
The 13th round of talks between senior military commanders of India and China concluded on October 10. The Chinese side did not agree with the suggestions provided by the Indian side to resolve the military standoff between the two countries. Moreover, it has not shown interest in deescalating the border situation.
The Indian side hopes that China will work with it to bring a satisfactory resolution to the current issues to help advance the progress on bilateral relations.