Initial analyses seem to suggest that the law only puts in writing most of what China has already been doing on its borders.
In apparent move to formalise its belligerence on the borders it shares with other countries, China passed a new ‘border law’ late last week. Given that this legislation was passed amidst the ongoing standoff with the Indian army for the last 17 months, this latest law seems aimed at India more than any other neighbour of China.
China’s parliamentary body, the National People Congress passed the country’s law on 23 October (Saturday).
China shares land borders with 14 countries and the new land border law will come into effect from 1 January 2022. The main features of the new law are:
It assigns the responsibility of border security to People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and Chinese People’s Armed Police force. Responsibilities of the two agencies include resisting armed aggression and cooperating with local authorities to prevent, stop and combat illegal border crossings among others.
It also states that local governments at all levels of border provinces and autonomous regions must coordinate the allocation of resources towards strengthening of border infrastructure and support and coordinate with the armed forces.
Under the overall coordination of the central agencies, both the military and local governments would be responsible to ensure security across its borders, infrastructure development and maintenance of stability and order along its land borders.
Measures for People living in border regions
The law states that the state would take measures to better the level of border public services and infrastructure construction, improve the living conditions of locals living in border regions and support their livelihoods.
Through this law, the government would also take up education and publicity initiatives to “solidify the sense of community of the 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” among people living in border regions.
Cooperation with Neighbours
The law states that China would conduct its relations with neighbours based on the principles of “equality and mutual benefit”. It also states that China would form joint border committees with countries to negotiate land border management. Likewise, similar committees would be formed by the military agencies of the neighbouring country with China, to resolve border related issues.
Demarcation of Land Borders
The law states that the state would set up boundary markers in all its land borders to mark its land borders. The exact type of markers would be decided in consensus with the neighbouring country.
Prohibition of Activities near borders
The law prohibits the public or other organisations from indulging in any activities which “endanger national security or affect China’s friendly relations with neighbouring countries”. It also prohibits construction of any permanent buildings by individuals near border areas without the approval of the government.
It also restricts flying of unmanned aerial vehicles near border areas.
The law states that citizens and local organisations must work to maintain the security and stability of land borders, protect boundary markers and border defence infrastructure, and cooperate and assist in carrying out work related to land borders.
Sealing of borders
The country would seal its borders in events of wars or armed conflicts, major incidents that threaten national security or safety of border residents and when the border is threatened with natural disasters, accidents, public health incidents or nuclear, biological and chemical incidents.
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