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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 10/25/21

China adopts new land-border law amid military impasse with India

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China's top legislature voted to adopt the country's first national law on the protection and exploitation of the country's land-border areas, which aims to better maintain national security and manage border-related matters at the legal level amid regional tensions, including the frictions with India, the Global Times reported Sunday.

The Land Border Law, approved at the closing meeting of a legislative session of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress on Saturday, stipulates that "the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the People's Republic of China are sacred and inviolable," the Xinhua reported.

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, it further said.

"The state shall take measures to strengthen border defense, 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 defense and social, economic development in border areas," it says.

It may be pointed out that China is yet to finalize the border agreements with India and Bhutan, while Beijing has already resolved boundary disputes with 12 other neighbors. China has a land border of more than 22,000 kilometers and a coastline of over 18,000 kilometers.

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

The number of well-off, high-standard border villages with good roads stood at over 600 by the end of 2020, according to a Xinhua report. At least 130 border roads have been newly built, with a total length of 3,080 km, it said.

Chinese Experts

The enactment of the Land Border Law has filled the legal gap at the national level in dealing with border issues, said Chinese legal experts. It is in line with the international legislative practice, the GT quoted Chinese experts as saying.

Due to historical reasons, disputes and ambiguities still exist in land-border delineations at China-India borders and other border areas, Wang Xu, deputy dean of the School of Law under Renmin University of China, told the Global Times.

India has repeatedly tried to gain from provoking the border issue with China since the Galwan Valley clash in June 2020. Wang believes that the law will serve as a legal guideline for China in coping with all possible land-border disputes, including the current specific territorial conflicts at China-India borders.

"It provides an abundant legal foundation for China in dealing with border disputes with involved neighbors," Wang said.

Territorial integrity

It surpasses most of countries in the number of neighboring countries, the length of land border, and the complexity of maritime security, the Global Times said, adding: "Therefore, it is a daunting task for China to safeguard its territorial sovereignty, maritime rights and interests, and national unity, according to a national defense white paper released by the State Council Information Office of China in 2019."

China has been actively tackling boundary issues with related countries on the basis of good-neighborliness and peaceful coexistence, the GT said. It signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on a Three-Step Roadmap with Bhutan earlier this month, which is the result of years of joint efforts and sincere cooperation between the two sides, and will reduce the risks on the eastern China-India border, the GT quoted observers as saying.

Taking effect from January 1, 2022, the law also regulates that national and regional governments are obligated to take measures to protect the stability of cross-border rivers and lakes, and rationally use the water [resources] there.

The law reiterates the friendly consultation and joint development [principles] that China adheres to on water resources of cross-border rivers, said Qian Feng, director of the research department at the National Strategy Institute at Tsinghua University.

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
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