China’s new border security law gives stamp of approval to its disquieting India, Bhutan border actions

Indian and Chinese troops face off in the Galwan Valley on the disputed border between China and India, June 15, 2020. (Photo courtesy: CCTV)

(, Oct24’21) – China has on Oct 23 adopted a new border security law which would formalise some of its recent actions in disputed territories with both India and Bhutan, reported Oct 24, citing China’s official Xinhua news agency.

The law was first proposed in March this year, a year into tensions that erupted along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with India after the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) mobilised two divisions in forward areas and carried out multiple transgressions, the report noted.

Observers have been cited as saying the new law would formalise some of China’s recent actions in disputed territories with both India and Bhutan, including the PLA’s massing of troops in forward areas along the India border, multiple transgressions across the LAC, and the construction of new “frontier villages” along the border with Bhutan.

The legislature, which is largely ceremonial in China and controlled by the ruling Communist Party, “voted to adopt a new law on the protection and exploitation of the country’s land border areas,” Xinhua was quoted as saying.

Asserting that sovereignty and territorial integrity of China are ”sacred and inviolable”, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC) has approved the law at the closing meeting of a legislative session on Oct 23.

The law, which becomes operational from Jan 1 next year, stipulates that the Chinese 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 is said to designate the various responsibilities of the military, the State Council or Cabinet, and provincial governments in managing the security and economic issues in border areas.

The state is tasked to 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 law is also reported to state that 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.

The move comes as authorities look to prevent border incidents flaring in the run up to a once-every-five-years congress in the fall of 2022 to decide the Communist Party’s top leadership, noted the Oct 23.

The new law is cited as saying the People’s Armed Police Force and the Public Security Bureau, which are in charge of maintaining public order, can be mobilized to guard borders in addition to the PLA.

Weapons can be used against people illegally crossing borders if they engage in violence while the use of drones and model airplanes near borders without permission is banned.

Infrastructure facilities for transport, communication, surveillance and defense can be built on the Chinese occupied Tibet side of the borders.

The law is also said to oblige the national and local governments to take measures to protect the stability of transboundary rivers and lakes. It is believed that China is flirting with the possibility of limiting the volume of water during conflicts with India, citing “protection and reasonable use” as stipulated in the law.

Specific provisions are said to include Article 22 which says the PLA “shall carry out border duties” including “organising drills” and “resolutely prevent, stop and combat invasion, encroachment, provocation and other acts”.

The passing of the law coincides with stepped up Chinese activity along the land borders, which have mirrored actions in disputed waters in the East and South China Sea. The law will give a stamp of approval for the military’s recent actions in disputed areas, noted report.


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