India is likely to face more challenges at the northern border as China implements its new border law from Saturday. Sources said from now on China is likely to dig in its heels at the current disputed positions at the Line of Actual Control and will come up with more model border villages -- to be used both for military and civilian purposes. Making a provocative assertion, China on December 30, 2021 renamed 15 places of Arunachal Pradesh in their map.
Major General Ashok Kumar (Retd) told IANS, "The new land border law is the latest attempt by China to unilaterally delineate and demarcate territorial boundaries with India and Bhutan."
Explaining how this law has huge implications for India, Major General Kumar said that by bringing in such a law, and in conjunction with accelerated construction of 624 "Xiaokong" known as model villages along and inside the disputed land boundaries with India, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has created conditions for a 'militarised solution' to the boundary issue.
"It is a hybrid unconventional warfare methodology, applied for taking over illegal control of sovereign spaces of other states and gets converted into a legalistic nation-building exercise which brooks no opposition," he said.
On October 23, 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 January 1.
The law is not meant specifically for the border with 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 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. The type of marker is to be decided in agreement with the relevant neighbouring state.
The law further stated that People's Liberation Army (PLA) and Chinese People's Armed Police Force will maintain security along the border. This responsibility includes cooperating with local authorities in combating illegal border crossings.
The law prohibits any party from indulging in any activity in the border area which would "endanger national security or affect China's friendly relations with neighbouring countries". It includes construction of any permanent buildings by any person without authorisation from the concerned authority.
Further it stated that citizens and local organisations are mandated to protect and defend the border infrastructure, maintain security and stability of borders and co-operate with government agencies in maintaining border security.
The law 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.
The state can 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".
In effect, this suggests a push to settle civilians in the border areas. The law comes amid a border dispute with India. India claims that China has illegally occupied about 38,000 sq km of India's territory in Aksai Chin, which borders eastern Ladakh. Pakistan ceded to China about 5,180 sq km in 1963 from the Indian territory illegally occupied by it. India and China have been engaged in border disputes for the last 20 months and diplomatic and military talks are on to resolve the issues.