China has passed a new law to strengthen land border protection amid the ongoing standoff with India along the Line of Actual Control, reported the Hindustan Times on Sunday.

China’s Parliament, the National People’s Congress, on Saturday voted to adopt the “ law on the protection and exploitation of the country’s land border areas, which will take effect on January 1, 2022”, according to state-run media.

The law will now govern how Beijing guards its 22,000-km long land border that it shares with 14 countries, including India, Russia, North Korea, Mongolia and Bhutan. China has land border disputes with India and Bhutan.

This is the first time China has passed a law specifying how it governs its borders, reported Reuters.

The People’s Liberation Army and the People’s Armed Police Force, the country’s military and the military police, guard the border against any “invasion, encroachment, infiltration, provocation”.

The new law says that China can close down its border if a war or other armed conflict nearby threatens border security. It also strengthens the Army’s policy to work closely with civilians at border areas to form the first line of defence.

The law stipulates that China will take measures to “strengthen border defence, support economic and social development as well as opening-up in border areas, improve public services and infrastructure in such areas, encourage and support people’s life and work there, and promote coordination between border defence and social, economic development in border areas”.

It gives “relevant responsibilities” to the People’s Liberation Army, the militia and the local government to support and coordinate defence and build border infrastructure.

The law states that China will develop border towns and improve their overall “supporting capacity”. Beijing has hundreds of border villages, reportedly more than 600 across Tibet alone, according to the Hindustan Times.

On border dispute, the law says that China will follow the principle of “equality, mutual trust, and friendly consultation” and handle such affairs with the neighbouring countries through negotiations.

India and China have been locked in a border standoff since their troops clashed in Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh in June last year. Twenty Indian soldiers were killed in the clash. China put the number of casualties on its side at four.

After several rounds of talks, India and China had disengaged from Pangong Tso Lake in eastern Ladakh in February. After the commander level talks on July 31, the two countries also agreed to disengage from Gogra.

The two countries recently held a the 13th round of military talks but could not make a breakthrough. At the meeting, India told China that its “unilateral attempts to alter the status quo” had led to tensions along the Line of Actual Control, the Army said.

On the other hand, China claimed that India had insisted on “unreasonable and unrealistic demands”, which made the negotiations more difficult.