Use international law, call out China’s violations

Contact Counsellor

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:
  1. Article 51: self-defense
  2. 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.