On Saturday, China issued a new land border law to protect and maintain the sovereignty and territorial integrity of its border areas. In the midst of the ongoing border standoff between India and China in the eastern Ladakh sector since April 2020, a new law specifically aimed at protecting sovereignty could be significant. The latest round of military leaders’ talks between the two countries collapsed, although the two sides agreed to meet again at an unspecified time.

Why is the new law at this time a question for which there are no easy answers.

This is the first time that China has issued a law dealing with its land borders. It broadly demonstrates how these areas are governed. The new law states that people living in border areas must support border patrols and the military’s surveillance activities. Ordinary citizens are prohibited from building permanent facilities near the border without the approval of the authorities. No civilians are allowed to fly drones in the sensitive border area. By the way, the law also states that weapons can be used against those who cross the border illegally.

The People’s Liberation Army and the People’s Armed Police Force are responsible for guarding the border. China has a vast land area with a border of about 22,000 km that it shares with 14 other countries. However, Beijing resolved border issues with everyone except India and Bhutan. Now, the country is preparing to settle its border disputes with Bhutan, with the recent signing of a hypothetical memorandum of understanding between the two countries. This would make India the only superpower with which China has not resolved its border problem. Moreover, there are no indications that China is ready to do so because it refuses to recognize the McMahon Line and is determined to expand its territory. The signal from China is that it will not compromise and that the border talks are not going anywhere unless India is willing to accept China’s demands. So the tension between India and China along the land border is expected to remain constant.

Former ambassador to China Gautam Bambawali does not read much about the new laws. “It does not change anything on the ground. If it is meant to send a message to India, it has failed. After all, every country talks about protecting its borders and sovereignty. China does it, and so does India. What is worrying is bringing Troops and soldiers to our borders and make incursions, not the law of borders.

A new law calling for close monitoring of border areas may also have been drawn up with a focus on Afghanistan. China is concerned about members of the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM), many of whom are in Afghanistan and could infiltrate restive Xinjiang province, where Muslim Uyghurs feel resentment under Chinese rule. Beijing has developed good relations with the Taliban and obtained assurances that the movement will not be allowed to use Afghan soil against China. However, Taliban control over many remote areas of Afghanistan remains weak, and China ensures that the border remains well-guarded on its part.

China is under tremendous pressure from the United States and other Western countries due to widespread violations of the rights of Uyghurs. Thousands were withdrawn due to what authorities say is re-education. The new law will enter into force on January 1, 2022. It ends

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