New Delhi: India on Wednesday hit out at China for its "unilateral" decision to bring about a new land border law and said it is a matter of concern as the legislation can have implications on the existing bilateral pacts on border management and on the overall boundary question.
External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said India expects that China will avoid undertaking action under the pretext of the law that could unilaterally alter the situation in the India-China border areas.
He said such a "unilateral move" will have no bearing on the arrangements that both sides have already reached earlier -- be it on the boundary question or for maintaining peace and tranquillity along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
"China's unilateral decision to bring about a legislation which can have implication on our existing bilateral arrangements on border management as well as on the boundary question is of concern to us," Bagchi said. He was replying to a media query on the matter.
"Such 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 tranquillity along the LAC in India-China border areas," he said.
The spokesperson said India expects that China will avoid undertaking action under the pretext of this law. "Furthermore, the passage of this new law does not in our view confer any legitimacy to the so-called China Pakistan 'Boundary Agreement' of 1963 which government of India has consistently maintained is an illegal and invalid agreement," he said.
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The new China law on border areas
On October 23, China's national legislature adopted the new law on the protection and exploitation of the land border areas, which could have bearing on Beijing's border dispute 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. Unlike the Indian border, however, China’s borders with these two countries are not disputed. The only other country with which China has disputed land borders is Bhutan (477 km).
Xinhua news agency reported last week that the law, which becomes operational from January 1 next year, stipulates that "the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the People's Republic of China are sacred and inviolable".
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”, as per a report by Indian Express.
"The law states among other things that China abides by treaties concluded with or jointly acceded to by foreign countries on land boundary affairs," Bagchi said. He said the legislation also has provisions to carry out reorganisation of districts in the border areas.
The law is not meant specifically for the border with India; however, India and China have still not resolved the 3,488-km boundary question and that both sides have agreed to seek a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable resolution to it through consultations on an equal footing.
Both sides have also concluded several bilateral agreements, protocols and arrangements to maintain peace and tranquillity along the LAC in India-China border areas in the interim.
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