China’s new border laws implemented amid Galwan video: All you need to know about the legislation and why is it a concern for India

Beijing's 'Land Border Law’ came into effect on the same day — 1 January — it released a video showing the national flag flying at the Galwan Valley

FP Staff January 03, 2022 12:49:11 IST
China’s new border laws implemented amid Galwan video: All you need to know about the legislation and why is it a concern for India

File image of Indian guards at the Bumla pass along the China border. AFP

India may face more troubles along the northern border as China’s new border laws came into effect from 1 January, Saturday.

We examine these new laws implemented by China and how they may affect our security situation.

Beijing’s new border laws

On 23 October, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, China's top legislative body, passed a new law citing "protection and exploitation of the country's land border areas". The committee had stated that the new law will come into effect from 1 January.

The new border law has 62 articles and seven chapters. As per the law, the People's Republic of China shall set up boundary markers on all its land borders to clearly mark the border.

Incidentally, the new border law is not specific to India. China shares its 22,457-km land boundary with 14 countries including India, the third longest after the borders with Mongolia and Russia.

The law stipulates that “the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the People’s Republic of China are sacred and inviolable”.

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 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.

The new law also says that the state shall follow the principle of equality, mutual trust and friendly consultation to handle land border-related affairs with neighbouring countries through negotiations to properly resolve disputes and longstanding border issues.

How does this affect India?

The new border laws are bound to have an effect on India. These laws come into effect as India continues to attempt to resolve its long-standing conflict with the Dragon.

First off, this legislation could become an issue as it prohibits construction of permanent infrastructure close to the border without China’s permission. India and China have in the recent times stepped up their construction activities — roads, bridges and housing units for troops are being built at breakneck speed on both sides of the border.

Moreover, the new map of China shows the entire Arunachal Pradesh, Barahoti Plains in Uttarakhand and areas up to the 1959 Claim Line in Ladakh as part of its territory. As per the new laws, these areas are now considered China's sovereign territory. Also, the new law states that China will have absolute control over its internal rivers disregarding the interests of neighbouring states.

The new law also lays the path for the development of the border region. It states that People's Republic of China will take up education and propaganda to "solidify the sense of community of China, to promote the spirit of China, to defend the unity and territorial integrity of the country, strengthen citizens' sense of the country and homeland security, and build a common spiritual home for the Chinese nation" amongst citizens in the border region.

Please read: China builds 'xiaokang border defence village' in Arunachal: Implications for India's security

This means that the small villages, which China has been building along the border, will only increase in numbers, potentially affecting the security situation for India.

In effect, this suggests a push to settle civilians in the border areas.

Explaining why this could spell trouble for India, Former Northern Army Commander Lt Gen D S Hooda told Indian Express: "If you [China] start having settled population on the other side, creeping across what we [India] feel is our border, at some stage later, whenever, when you start discussing the border between the two sides, they will say we [China] have settled population in this area."

The Galwan video

It is interesting to note that on the same day that the new laws came into effect, China also released a propaganda video, showing the Chinese flag at Galwan.

Videos of the event were put out by various Chinese government mouthpieces.

Global Times tweeted, “In the Galwan Valley near the border with #India, under the characters “Never yield an inch of land,” PLA soldiers send new year greetings to Chinese people on January 1, 2022.”

Reacting to the video, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Sunday asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to "break the silence" over Chinese "incursions" in the Galwan region of eastern Ladakh.

"Our tricolour looks good at Galwan. There should be a response to China. Modi ji, break the silence," Gandhi said on Twitter.

The provocation at the border came days after China 'renamed' 15 places in Arunachal Pradesh.

The government had then put out a sharp reaction, reiterating that the state of Arunachal Pradesh is an integral part of India. Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi in a statement had said on 30 December, "We have seen such reports. This is not the first time China has attempted such a renaming of places in the state of Arunachal Pradesh. China had also sought to assign such names in April 2017. Arunachal Pradesh has always been, and will always be an integral part of India. Assigning invented names to places in Arunachal Pradesh does not alter this fact."

With inputs from agencies

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