OCTOBER 29, 2021

Even as India and China engage in talks, the current state of tension is likely to continue

China passing a new border law amid a continuing stalemate in negotiations with India sends a clear signal to New Delhi that Beijing is in no mood to quickly end the 18-month-long crisis along the LAC. The law, which will take effect on January 1, designates the responsibilities of various agencies in China, from the military to local authorities, in guarding the frontiers. It “stipulates that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the People’s Republic of China are sacred and inviolable”. Calling on the military to “guard against and combat any act that undermines territorial sovereignty and land boundaries”, the law says the Chinese military “shall carry out border duties” to “resolutely prevent, stop and combat invasion, encroachment, provocation and other acts”. India has reacted sharply, telling China that it must not use legislation as a “pretext” to formalise the PLA’s actions since last year to unilaterally alter the LAC. While the law says Beijing will negotiate with its neighbours to settle its borders, India reminded China that the legislation will have little bearing on the India-China boundary as both sides are yet to resolve the boundary question. Responding to India’s concerns, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said the law would not affect the implementation of existing agreements. The legislation also has implications for the only other country China has unresolved land borders with — Bhutan — calling for continuing efforts to develop border areas. Among those efforts is the on-going construction of frontier villages, including in disputed areas.

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