While the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is embroiled in high tensions in the east, it continues to attempt to assert control over its frontiers, particularly in the western reaches of the mainland, showcasing its determination in securing its borders. On Oct. 23, Beijing approved a law that enforces its strength across its borders. The law is to take effect on Jan. 1, 2022.
After a legislative session of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, the new Land Border Law (LBL) aims to preserve what the CCP claims as the “sacred and inviolable” sovereignty and territorial integrity of the communist-ruled lands.
According to experts and affairs scholars, the CCP’s top legislature voted to enact their “first national law on the protection and exploitation of the country’s land border areas.”
According to the government-run Global Times, the law would work on ensuring national security and legal management of matters involving the mainland’s borders.
This new law will allow the communist government to “resolutely safeguard” its territories and border security on the ground, as well as oppose any action they deem to threaten them. It also lays out the government’s and its leadership’s roles in border security, the defensive capabilities of said borders, and the international cooperation between two sides of a border affair.
Beijing claims that it will close its borders should armed conflict threaten border security. Following the “principle of equality, mutual trust and friendly consultation,” it said it will also consult with other countries through negotiations to resolve their affairs.
The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) would “carry out border duties,” which includes military drills and seek to prevent aggressive or militaristic acts against border security, the law states.
Other than its defenses, the law also specifies the need to improve public services and infrastructure, support economic and social development, and decide on the opening of border areas, India Today reported.
Under the law, the state will have to support the development and capacity of border towns, where hundreds have already been constructed on the borders of Tibet.
Stalemate with India
As of Oct. 25, India and Bhutan are the two countries yet to conclude on border agreements with Beijing, while 12 other countries have settled their disputes with the communist nation.
The two governments of Beijing and New Delhi have been interlocked in a stalemate along their borders for 17 months, which included a skirmish in the Galwan Valley in easter Ladakh on June 15, 2020. Twenty Indian soldiers and four Chinese soldiers were killed as both sides fought one another with rods and clubs wrapped with barbed wire and rocks.
According to India’s Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla, developments along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh have “seriously disturbed” the peace in the border areas, risking damaging relations between Beijing and New Delhi. Over 3,488 kilometres of the LAC is faced with tense border disputes, and 400 kilometres of tension engulf the China-Bhutan border.
From his seminar on “Leveraging China’s Economy” on Oct. 21, Shringla also commented on the importance of India and China’s cooperation to “determine the Asian century.”
“We hope that the Chinese side will work with us to bring a satisfactory resolution to the current issues so as to make progress on our bilateral relations keeping in view each other’s sensitives, aspirations and interests,” the foreign secretary said.
Other than its tensions with India, Beijing has also cited the law’s role in the protection against other threats, especially the deluging effects from the Taliban in Afghanistan and COVID-19 spreading from Southeast Asia.
The CCP has expressed its concerns regarding possible Islamist movements into the Xinjiang province, where tens of thousands of Uyghur Muslims are being round up by communist authorities and corralled into labor camps, Deutsche Welle (DW) reported.
While Beijing promises closer cooperation with the Taliban government, it may face more problems than it solves, according to Eurasia Group President Ian Bremmer. The CCP could potentially face the return of the Uyghur militant group, the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), which has claimed the lives of Chinese nationals and prompted the need for heightened security.
Already hard-hit by COVID-19, the CCP also fears that illegal immigration from Vietnam and Myanmar could also bring in more cases of COVID-19, as the virus strikes provinces close to the borders.