Don’t use new law to justify LAC moves, India tells China

Don’t use new law to justify LAC moves, India tells China

‘It will have no bearing on present border arrangements’

China must not use its new “Land Boundary Law” to justify any actions that alter the situation at the Line of Actual Control (LAC), said India, in a strongly worded statement that expressed “concern” over the law. The government called the law a “unilateral move”, and said it could have no bearing on existing arrangements between both sides, as India and China have not resolved their boundary issues thus far. It also reaffirmed India’s rejection of the China-Pakistan 1963 agreement in which Pakistan handed over the Shaksgam Valley of Aksai Chin to China. India that claims all of Jammu and Kashmir, which includes Aksai Chin, has maintained that the agreement is “illegal and invalid”.

In addition, New Delhi’s latest statement indicates some apprehension that Beijing could use its new law, that authorises the state to combat any attempts on its land boundaries, and to strengthen border defences and infrastructure, as a “pretext” to formalise the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops incursions into the LAC, and building infrastructure along the Indian territory since April 2020.

Don’t use new law to justify LAC moves, India tells China

“China’s unilateral decision to bring about 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. 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,” said a statement issued by the Ministry of External Affairs on Wednesday.

“We also expect that China will avoid undertaking action under the pretext of this law which could unilaterally alter the situation in the India-China border areas,” said the statement, released by the MEA four days after the law was first reported in Chinese state media.

India and Bhutan are China’s only land neighbours that don’t have a resolved boundary, making them more of a target for the law, experts have argued.

Impasse in talks

While Bhutan and China signed an MoU on October 14 aimed at expediting boundary talks, talks between India and China on the LAC stand-off have run into an impasse during border commander talks this month, and Special Representatives (SRs) tasked with the larger boundary question have not held a formal meeting on the issue since December 2019.

The statement by the MEA over the new law follows an equally sharp statement after the 13th round of corps commander talks on October 10, where India accused China of failing to accept any of its proposals to disengage troops at the LAC, and the meeting ended without a resolution on remaining areas of contention.

According to the Xinhua news agency, the new law, which was cleared by the Chinese legislative assembly on October 23, will be operational from January 1, 2022, and stipulates that “the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the People’s Republic of China are sacred and inviolable”. It promotes all measures including “opening up” economic activities and supporting people’s “life and work” at the border, indicating that China could attempt at building more border villages of the kind adjoining the boundaries with Bhutan at Doklam and India across the LAC from Arunachal Pradesh.

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