China’s New Border Law Allows PLA to Carry Military Duties in Disputed Areas


China’s National legislature adopted a new law on the protection and exploitation of the land border areas asserting that sovereignty and territorial integrity of China are “sacred and inviolable.” The new law however could have a bearing on Beijing’s border dispute with India.

According to reports, members of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC) approved the law at the closing meeting of a legislative session on Saturday. The law, which becomes operational from 1 January next year, stipulates that “the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the People’s Republic of China are sacred and inviolable,” it said.

The state shall take measures to safeguard territorial integrity and land boundaries and guard against and combat any act that undermines territorial sovereignty and land boundaries, the report said.

China’s law also stipulates that the state shall take measures to strengthen border defence, support economic and social development as well as opening-up in border areas, improve public services and infrastructure in such areas, encourage and support people’s life and work there, and promote coordination between border defence and social, economic development in border areas, it said.

The state shall, following the principle of equality, mutual trust and friendly consultation, handle land border-related affairs with neighbouring countries through negotiations to properly resolve disputes and longstanding border issues, it said.

The law states that the Chinese military shall carry out border duties, including organizing drills and resolutely prevent, stop and combat invasion, encroachment, provocation and other acts.

A significant aspect of China’s new law includes state support for the construction of border towns, improving their functioning and strengthening supporting capacity for the construction.

China in recent years has been strengthening the border infrastructure including the establishment of air, rail and road networks. It also launched a bullet train in Tibet which extends up to Nyingchi, the border town close to Arunachal Pradesh.

Besides that, China also began constructing a number of villages close to the border with proper infrastructure in Tibet which have become an essential and effective part of border defence, state-run Global Times reported on 19 October.

By the end of 2020, Tibet had built more than 600 well-off, high-standard border villages. The roads connecting border villages are also quite accessible. At least 130 border roads have been newly built or reconstructed with a total length of 3,080 kms, it quoted a report by the state-run Xinhua news agency.

The new law calls for the establishment of trade areas and border economic cooperation zones at the borders. It also calls for improving the ecological environment along the border besides epidemic control and maintaining flood and fire control.

India and Bhutan are the two countries with which China is yet to finalize the border agreements, while Beijing has resolved the boundary disputes with 12 other neighbours. 


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