India overreacts, makes 'unreasonable' announcement on China's land border law: Chinese lawmakers

India overreacted and made an unreasonable announcement against China's newly adopted land border legislation, as the law is not targeted at the China-India border dispute and in line with international law, legislators told the Global Times, warning India that its paranoia and overgeneralizing the new law could set negotiations between the two countries back.

Pigeon-holing itself as a target of the law shows India is aware that its unreasonable, groundless request on border issue cannot stand legislative tests, said Chinese analysts, urging Indian politicians and media to view the new legislation in a objective way, and stressing that India should meet China halfway on border issues, and cast aside its unrealistic illusion. 

Analysts' remarks came after Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi on Wednesday described China's decision to bring out the law as a matter of "concern," and said that China's "unilateral decision" can have implications on the existing bilateral pacts on the management of the border and the boundary question.

"We also expect China to avoid action under the pretext of this law which could unilaterally alter the situation in India-China border areas," he said. 

India's concern is unreasonable from a legal perspective, as the law is not meant to resolve the China-India border issue. It is for the country's land border management, Quan Xiaolian, an associate professor from the School of International Law of Southwest University of Political Science and Law, who also participated in making the law, told the Global Times on Thursday.

The legislation is also in line with international law, as every country reserves the right to safeguard its territory, said Quan, pointing out that the Indian External Affairs Ministry did not attack the law for lack of legal basis. "Hence, India's concerns are not backed by law, and are purely out of its own politics and diplomatic interests," she said, warning that India's paranoia and overgeneralizing of the law could set back the two countries' border negotiations. 

The land border law, approved at the closing meeting of a legislative session of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress on Saturday, states that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the People's Republic of China are sacred and inviolable. 

The law clarifies the leadership system, government responsibilities and military tasks in territorial border work, the delineation and surveying of land borders, the defense and management of land borders and frontiers, and international cooperation on land border affairs.

It emphasized that the state shall take measures to safeguard territorial integrity and land border security, and guard against and combat any acts that undermine territorial sovereignty and land boundaries.

Passing of the law at a sensitive moment when China and India entered an impasse after the 13th military talk stalled also attracted wide attention from the Indian press. Indian Express cited a military officer as saying on Wednesday, "Why should you want to pass a law in the midst of an ongoing standoff? You are clearly sending a message… Now that they have made a law, how does it reconcile with an agreement tomorrow?"

The Hindustan Times wrote an editorial on Tuesday entitled "LAC: India must stay vigilant," which claims that the law proves China won't easily bow to India on border issues. 

When asked about China's rationale in introducing the new law, Wang Wenbin, spokesperson of China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that it is to enhance land borders management, and is "normal domestic legislation."

He said that the law has clear provisions on conducting cooperation with countries sharing a national land boundary with China and handling boundary affairs on the basis of adhering to relevant treaties related to national land boundary affairs and the principle of equality and mutual benefit. 

It will not affect China's compliance with existing treaties related to national land boundary affairs China has already signed or change China's current mode of boundary management and cooperation with countries sharing a land boundary with it. Nor will it alter China's position and proposition on relevant boundary issues, Wang said. 

Quan said that the new law, almost two decades in the making, was unveiled now because China has solved border disputes with almost all neighboring countries it shares a land border with. "The time is ripe for the law to be published."

India, as well as Bhutan, are negotiating with China on border issues. Yet China and Bhutan signed a Memorandum of Understanding on a Three-Step Roadmap earlier this month to help speed up boundary talks that have been heavily delayed. The MoU was hailed as historically significant and is the result of years of joint efforts and sincere cooperation between the two sides.

Pigeon-holing itself as the target of the law shows India is aware that its unreasonable and groundless demands on border disputes with China won't stand the test of law; and is afraid that the law will further solidify China's proposition on relevant problems, Qian Feng, the director of the research department at the National Strategy Institute at Tsinghua University, told the Global Times. 

New Delhi came up with the idea of making bogus accusations and hyping China's new law, positioning itself as being on the moral high ground and the victim, said Qian, urging India to view the law objectively and cast aside its tricks and unreasonable depictions of border issues.  

In his statement, Bagchi also said that "the passage of this new law does not in our view confer any legitimacy to the so-called China Pakistan "Boundary Agreement" of 1963."

Wang Xu, deputy dean of the School of Law of Renmin University of China, who was also involved in drafting the law, told the Global Times that it is normal for a new law not to refer to past pacts or terms. Furthermore, when we evaluate the legal force of an agreement, we should see if it is consistent with the law, said Wang, noting that he believes the spirit of the land borders law is in line with that of the agreement. "So people shouldn't judge an agreement just because it cannot be traced back technically," he said.