New Delhi: Terming China’s new ‘Land Border Law’ a matter of concern, India Wednesday said Beijing should not use it as a “pretext” to alter the already tense situation along the border areas.
“China’s unilateral decision to bring about a legislation which can have implications on our existing bilateral arrangements on border management as well as on the boundary question is of concern to us,” Arindam Bagchi, Spokesperson, Ministry of External Affairs said.
“We also expect that China will avoid undertaking action under the pretext of this law which could unilaterally alter the situation in the India-China border areas,” he added.
Bagchi also said that such a unilateral move will have “no bearing on the arrangements that both sides have already reached earlier, whether it is on the Boundary Question or for maintaining peace and tranquility along the LAC in India-China Border areas.”
India’s remarks come days after China on 23 October passed ‘Land Border Law of the People’s Republic of China’, which was adopted at the 31st meeting of the Standing Committee of the 13th National People’s Congress.
Referring to the several bilateral agreements, protocols and arrangements to maintain peace and tranquility along the LAC, the Ministry of External Affairs said those were agreed upon as an interim measure only because both countries have not resolved the boundary question.
“Both sides have agreed to seek a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable resolution to the Boundary Question through consultations on an equal footing,” Bagchi said.
The five main border agreements that India and China have which ascertain their commitment to maintain peace and tranquility in the border areas are: The 1993 Agreement on Maintenance of Peace and Tranquility along the Line of Actual Control in the India-China Border Areas; the 1996 Agreement on Confidence Building Measures in the Military Field along the LAC; the 2005 Protocol on Modalities for the Implementation of the Confidence-Building Measures in the Military Field along the LAC; the 2012 Agreement on the Establishment of a Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs; and the 2013 Border Defence Cooperation Agreement.
India also said the new law does not in any way give any “legitimacy to the so-called China Pakistan ‘Boundary Agreement’ of 1963 which the Government of India has consistently maintained is an illegal and invalid agreement”.
India and China have had a war and several border clashes over the boundary question. The latest border standoff began in April-May 2020. While both sides have had initial disengagement of troops, the situation continues to remain tense.
In June last year, Indian and Chinese soldiers clashed at the Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh in which 20 Indian soldiers died, while the number of Chinese fatalities was never made official.
What does the ‘China Border Law’ say
The new law says the Chinese government will take “effective measures to strengthen border defence construction, support the economic and social development of the border and open up to the outside world, promote the action of strengthening the border and enriching the people of the border, improve the level of border public services and infrastructure construction, improve the production and living conditions of the border, and encourage and support border residents in border production and life, and promote the coordinated development of border defence construction and border economy and society”.
Beijing said it was passed to “safeguard national sovereignty, security and territorial integrity” while promoting “good neighbourly friendship and exchanges and cooperation” with the countries it shares land borders with.
China shares a 22,100-km land border with 14 of its neighbours, out of this it is only with India and Bhutan that the issue has not been settled.
(Edited by Neha Mahajan)