China has passed a law to strengthen border protection amid a protracted standoff with India; the law calls on the state and military to safeguard territory and “combat any acts” that undermine China’s territorial claims.
This is the first time that the People's Republic of China has adopted a dedicated law specifying how it governs and guards its 22,000-km (14,000-mile) land border shared with 14 countries, including Russia and nuclear-capable North Korea.
The new law, observers were cited as saying by ‘The Hindu’, would formalise some of China’s recent actions in disputed territories with both India and Bhutan, including the PLA’s massing of troops in forward areas along the India border, multiple transgressions across the LAC, and the construction of new “frontier villages” along the border with Bhutan.
The Land Borders Law will not necessarily change how border security is handled when the measure takes effect on January 1, but it reflects China's growing confidence in its capability to manage its frontiers. The country will "take effective measures to resolutely protect territorial sovereignty and land border security", the law says.
The legislation is also intended to address worries about spill-over effects from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan and the spread of COVID-19 from Southeast Asia. China has been closely watching neighbouring Afghanistan, where the Taliban returned to power in August, to guard against a possible inflow of refugees or Islamic extremists crossing over to link up with the Muslim Uyghurs in China's Xinjiang region.
China has also taken great pains to keep the COVID-19 virus outside of its borders, after illegal crossings from Myanmar and Vietnam contributed this year to a surge in cases in its southern provinces of Yunnan and Guangxi respectively.