China passed a new law on Saturday, the first in the country’s modern history to explicitly address how it patrols its sprawling 22,100-kilometer (13,700-mile) land border with 14 other countries.
The land border law, which comes into force on January 1, comes at a time when China is concerned about security on its border with Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, with COVID-19 entering the country via crossings. border crossers from its Southeast Asian neighbors and a tense standoff with India over their mutual border which has seen deadly skirmishes over the past year.
According to the text of the law, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army will be authorized to counter any “invasion, encroachment, infiltration, [or] provocation “which occurs at one of the country’s borders and provides a legal framework for the strict closure of the borders if Beijing sees fit.
What is the conflict on the Sino-Indian border?
india Hindustan times reported that the new measure “formalizes the combination of military defense of China’s land borders with improved social and economic development in border areas.” It also enables citizens of border regions, such as Tibetan villagers living near India, Bhutan and Nepal, to act as a “first line of defense”.
China and India have been grappling with a border dispute since May 2020. A month later, a scuffle broke out between troops on either side as the soldiers fought with blunt instruments. About 20 Indian soldiers and four Chinese soldiers died.
The law also emphasizes that in the event of border disputes, all diplomatic efforts must first be exhausted before the military is deployed, according to Chinese state media, which also welcomed the law which they believe will benefit. to those who live near the border.
What else is Beijing worried about?
Chinese officials have expressed concerns not only over relations with India. They also expressed fear that Islamist extremists could cross the border into Xinjiang province and connect with Uyghur Muslims, tens of thousands of whom are currently being arrested by authorities and sent to forced re-education and labor camps.
There are also fears that illegal immigration from Vietnam and Myanmar is bringing more cases of COVID-19 to the country. There have been recent outbreaks of the virus in Chinese provinces bordering these countries.
Reuters contributed to this report