BEIJING (Reuters) – China on Saturday passed a law to strengthen border protection amid a protracted standoff with India, worries about spillover effects from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan and the spread of COVID-19 from Southeast Asia.
The land border law won’t necessarily change the way border security is handled when the measure takes effect on January 1, but it reflects China’s growing confidence in its ability to manage its borders.
China is closely monitoring neighboring Afghanistan, where the Taliban returned to power in August, to guard against a possible influx of refugees or Islamist extremists crossing to join Muslim Uyghurs in China’s Xinjiang region.
At its Himalayan border, Chinese soldiers have been battling Indian troops since April 2020.
China has also taken great care to keep the COVID-19 virus out of its borders, after illegal crossings from Myanmar and Vietnam this year contributed to an increase in cases in its southern provinces of Yunnan and Guangxi respectively.
This is the first time that the People’s Republic of China, founded 72 years ago, has had a specific law specifying how it governs and maintains its 22,000 km (14,000 mile) land border shared with 14 countries, including the former Russian and nuclear superpower. North Korea capable.
The country “will take effective measures to resolutely protect the territorial sovereignty and the security of the land borders”, specifies the law.
The Chinese army and military police – the People’s Liberation Army and the People’s Armed Police Force – are responsible for guarding the border against “invasion, encroachment, infiltration, provocation.”
The law states that China can close its border if a nearby war or other armed conflict threatens border security.
(Reporting by Yew Lun Tian; Editing by William Mallard)