Use international law, call out China’s violations
- India’s External Affairs Minister: India-China Line of Actual Control (LAC) has arisen due to the “disregard” by China of written agreements.
- China’s doing at LAC is not a mere “disregard” but blatant violation of international law as part of a larger game of Chinese expansionism.
India-China LAC engagements
- Guided by a series of bilateral agreements over the years.
- All these agreements is complete proscription on the threat or use of force.
- 1993 agreement: provides neither side shall use or threaten to use force against the other by any means.
- Boundary questions to be resolved through peaceful and friendly consultations.
Various Agreements and provisions
- 1996 agreement(Article I): prohibits the use of military capability against the other side.
- 2005(Article I) and 2013(Article III) agreements: prohibition on the use of force.
- United Nations (UN) Charter[Article 2(4)]: States being forbidden from using force in international relations.
- UN Charter recognises two exceptions:
- Article 51: self-defense
- UN Security Council authorisation under Chapter VII.
Recent Intentional Violations
- June, 2020 military scuffle between India and China in Galwan: a clear case of China using military force against India.
- It violates all the bilateral treaties between India-China but also the UN Charter.
- China continued unabated through multiple transgressions at the LAC.
- China implemented a new border law that renames several places in Arunachal Pradesh.
- Also aims to set up boundary markers on all its land borders.
- LAC transgressions and the new border law violate Article IX of the 2005 agreement.
- There are reports of a huge military build-up by China in the Eastern Ladakh Sector.
- This breaches another key tenet of both the 1993 and the 1996 agreements.
- 1996 agreement(Article III): requires the two sides to reduce armaments such as combat tanks and vehicles, missiles, and mortars and big mortar guns.
China’s Conception of rule of law
- China portrays it as a socialist rule of law with Chinese characteristics.
- China views law as an instrument in the service of the state[Chinese Communist Party (CCP)].
- This oppose the rule of law theory in liberal democracies where law’s function is to constrain unbridled state power.
- China’s bellicosity towards India: complete violation of international law.
Recent Chinese Arbitrations
- China denounced a 2016 ruling in favor of the Philippines: a maritime dispute between the two sides in the South China Sea.
- By an arbitration tribunal(in aegis of UNCLOS).
- China has ingeniously exploited the system to pursue its policy of mercantilism.
- China is accused of providing illegal subsidies, manipulating currency to make exports competitive, stealing intellectual property, and forcing companies to transfer technology.
- China signed NPT obligations but secretly violated these obligations by providing nuclear technology to its allies through proxies.
China’s Dirty play
- China uses the sovereignty argument to cover up its barefaced illegalities.
- Chinese unethical legal warfare or lawfare is aimed at hamstringing the opponents without actually fighting a war.
- The practice of weaponizing international law sours relations between countries & generates an atmosphere of distrust.
India’s Response Toolkit
- India should make a strong legal case by painstakingly marshaling all the international treaties.
- It includes the UN Charter and customary international law.
- An unequivocal proclamation should be made at all international platforms.
- India has the right to act in self-defense under Article 51 of the UN Charter to counter any Chinese misadventure.
- The purpose of India’s lawfare should be to demonstrate to the world that China’s international law violations pose a threat to the entire international community, not just India.
- India needs to mainstream global law lexicon into its diplomatic toolkit to respond to Beijing’s direct challenges.
- Chinese exceptionalism that strikes at the heart of cherished liberal democratic values is no lesser evil than a liberal global order dominated by American exceptionalism.