Chronicles of an Unsung Village:  Analysing the legality of a Chinese Hamlet in Arunachal Pradesh through an International Law Perspective 

The term “territorial integrity” has a broad definition, embracing both territorial sovereignty and territorial preservation. The principle’s origins may be traced back to the Treaty of Westphalia, which established the territorial integrity and non-intervention principle as two key principles in international law in 1648. The idea of territorial integrity is incorporated into the UN Charter’s first chapter, as evidenced by the phrase “All members shall refrain from threatening or using force against the territorial integrity of any state…”

Many international treaties, such as the Organisation of Arab States (1948), the African Union (2000), and the Helsinki Final Act (1975), emphasise the need for territorial integrity protection. While highlighting the significance of a nation’s territorial integrity in his magnum opus, Just and Unjust Wars, Michael Walzer noted that it is founded on the assumption of non-interventionist approaches by states to safeguard a nation’s internal as well as external sovereignty. It ensures the integrity of a country’s border and denotes a country’s autonomy within its own borders. Unfortunately, nations are often victims of territorial integrity violations, and India is one of them this time. The recent building of a hamlet by China in Arunachal Pradesh, as verified by satellite imagery, poses a significant threat for India’s territorial integrity. “The Chinese foreign ministry has justified this construction on the grounds of construction on its own territory and has labelled it a subject of China’s sovereign rights,” according to media sources. Without a doubt, China has long asserted Arunachal Pradesh as part of its territory; however, India has always denied this claim by asserting sovereignty over the north-eastern state. The author in this article seeks to show that China’s actions amount to a violation of the established principle of non-intervention, a violation of UN Charter Article 2(4) against the background of this unlawful construction .

Violation of the Non-Intervention Principle

China’s building of a hamlet in Arunachal Pradesh, a state under India’s territorial sovereignty, is a breach of the non-intervention principle. The principle basically asserts that no country can influence or engage in the internal affairs of another nation, either directly or indirectly. It is based on the principle of preserving international peace and order while respecting each nation’s geographical boundaries. “The concept of non-intervention is a consequence of the principle of sovereign equality of States since it bans States or groups of States from intervening directly or indirectly in the internal or external affairs of other States,” the ICJ said in Nicaragua v. United States. In the Lotus Case (France v. Turkey), the PCIJ said that “the first and main restraint placed by international law upon a state is that a state may not use its authority in any form in the territory of another state.” As a result, every State must be able to conduct its activities without intervention from the outside world. The concept is fundamental in international law and it has been designated as a ‘jus cogens restriction,’ as also shown by the UN Charter and the judgements in the Nicaragua and Lotus cases, in other words, the concept has been elevated to the level of customary international law, and non-compliance is disallowed, subject to specific limitations. Scholars have often used terms like “sovereignty,” “state dignity,” “inviolability of state territory,” and “jus cogens” to emphasise the principle’s critical role in preserving a nation’s territorial integrity. The ‘Declaration on the Inadmissibility of Intervention in the Domestic Affairs of States and the Protection of Their Independence and Sovereignty 1965, G.A. Res. 2131 (XX)’ also recognises it and by the International Court of Justice in the issue of Armed Activities on Congo’s Territories (DRC v. Uganda). China’s non-interventionist policy is constantly criticised, notwithstanding its importance.

China, without a doubt, has strongly proclaimed the non-interventionist stance at the Bandung Conference and on countless other occasions, but its interventionist acts have exibited that there is a contradiction between China’s words and deeds. China, as the world’s economic and military superpower, has often crossed international borders to further its own objectives. Similarly, China has engaged in “quiet intervention” by erecting Hamlets on Indian soil, thus intervening in India’s internal issues. China participates in certain interventions quietly, but refuses to use the word “intervention” to excuse its intrusive behaviour. China is promoting itself as a “New Assertive China” in the guise of constructive involvement. As a result, it would not be inaccurate to remark that China’s uncertain foreign policy is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it has the potential to provide the best possible results, on the other side, it is frowned upon.

The violation of UN Charter’s Article 2(4)

Two cornerstone concepts of international law are reflected in Article 2(4) of the UN Charter: first, the principle of non-intervention, and second, the sovereign equality of all countries. The usage of the phrase “refrain from using force against territorial integrity” in Article 2(4) of the UN Charter encompasses unlawful expansion into the borders of other states as well as cross-border occurrences that infringe on the nation’s territorial sovereignty. Applying this Article to China, as a UN Charter member, the building of a village in Indian territory of Arunachal Pradesh is comparable to cross-border unlawful conduct, thus breaching India’s territorial sovereignty and the UN Charter’s aims, as defined under Article 2(4) of the UN Charter. Furthermore, China cannot use Article 51 of the UN Charter’s right of self-defence mechanism since the condition of a “armed attack by another nation” is obviously lacking in the present situation, as India has not initiated any kind of military attack against China’s village development.

Conclusion

In conclusion, China has placed a question mark on the implementation of the above cited principles by establishing an apparent Hamlet inside India’s geographical boundaries, based on a study of a globally recognised legal framework to safeguard a country’s territorial integrity. The alleged Sino operation has not only violated India’s sovereignty in the area, but also the recognised principle of non-intervention, as well as the UN Charter’s Article 2(4). The well-established concept of Non-Intervention, as its name indicates, demands a state to refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of another state, either directly or indirectly. As a signatory to the United States Charter, China is obligated by its regulations, which stipulate in Article 2 that the principles of non-intervention and sovereign equality of all nations are the cornerstones of international law. China, on the other hand, has failed to comply with both. China has even gone so far as to breach other Treaty duties, including the requirement in the Declaration on Friendly Relations, the Declaration on the Right to Development, and the Manila Declaration that nations maintain each other’s territorial integrity. Though the Indo-China Border Dispute extends back centuries, the Sino side’s continued violations of international law reveal that diplomatic discussions have been ineffective, and there is a foreshadowing of a catastrophic confrontation to come.

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