VII. Border and Coastal Defense

Adhering to the principles of conducting overall planning, placing equal emphasis on land and sea, giving priority to defense, and integrating defense and administration, China is endeavoring to make its border and coastal defense unified, effective, solid and informationized.

Border and Coastal Defense System

China's border and coastal defense is under the unified leadership of the State Council and the CMC, and practices an administration system of sharing responsibilities between the military and the local authorities. The State Commission of Border and Coastal Defense, composed of the relevant departments of the State Council and the PLA, and under the dual leadership of the State Council and the CMC, guides and coordinates China's border and coastal defense. All military area commands, as well as border and coastal provinces, prefectures and counties have commissions to guide and coordinate border and coastal defense within their respective jurisdictions.

The PLA is the main force for defending China's borders and coasts. The PLA border defense force has a three-level structure, namely, regiment, battalion and company. The PLA coastal defense force has a five-level structure, namely, division, brigade, regiment, battalion and company. In 2003, the PLA border defense force took over the defense of the China-DPRK border and the Yunnan section of the China-Myanmar border from the border public security force, thus enabling the state to integrate land border defense and administration. The border public security force is tasked with safeguarding security and maintaining social order in border and coastal areas. Within the border public security force there are contingents in provinces (autonomous regions or municipalities directly under the central government), detachments, groups, border police substations and frontier inspection stations in border and coastal areas, border inspection stations in open ports, and marine police force in coastal waters. Since China launched its reform and opening-up program, the state has consolidated border and coastal law-enforcement functions in organizations responsible for public security, customs, inspection and quarantine, maritime surveillance, fisheries administration, marine affairs and environmental protection. The state has also established and reinforced the border public security force, as well as border and coastal law-enforcement contingents for marine affairs, anti-smuggling, fisheries administration and maritime surveillance.

Building Border and Coastal Defense

China has promulgated the Law on National Defense, the Law on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone, the Law on the Exclusive Economic Zone and the Continental Shelf and other relevant laws and regulations, and updated its border and coastal defense policies and regulations pursuant to international laws and practices, to manage its border and sea areas in conformity with the law. China endeavors to strengthen its border and coastal defense, administration and control, and build a modern border and coastal defense force featuring joint military-police-civilian efforts in defense and administration. Over the past decade and more, the state has invested more than RMB 2 billion in construction of border defense infrastructure, building over 20,000 km of patrol roads, over 6,000 km of barbed-wire fences and installing some 600 sets of monitoring equipment. Construction of coastal defense infrastructure, including duty piers, monitoring stations and centers and auxiliary facilities has been underway since 2004.

China pursues a good-neighborliness policy, and works to enhance friendship and partnership with its neighbors. It calls for settling boundary and maritime demarcation issues with countries concerned in a fair and equitable manner, and through consultations on the basis of equality. China has signed land border treaties or agreements with Myanmar and 11 other neighboring countries, thus resolving boundary issues left from history with these countries; it is currently negotiating with India and Bhutan to settle boundary issues with those two countries respectively. Since 1996, China has set up bilateral consultation mechanisms on the law of the sea with the Republic of Korea and Japan, to exchange views on maritime demarcation and cooperation. In 2004, the Agreement Between China and Vietnam on the Demarcation of the Beibu Gulf officially entered into force.

China actively promotes border and coastal defense cooperation with its neighbors, strengthens border and coastal defense contacts in different fields and at various levels, and handles in an appropriate manner border- and coastal-defense-related issues with countries concerned. In 2005, the Agreement on Joint Patrols by the Navies of China and Vietnam in the Beibu Gulf was signed, and China respectively signed with the Philippines and Indonesia the Memorandum of Understanding on Maritime Affairs Cooperation and the Memorandum of Understanding on Maritime Cooperation. In July 2006, China and India reopened the border trade route at Nathu La Pass, which links China's Tibet with Sikkim, India. China's border and coastal defense forces, acting strictly in accordance with international law and the agreements and understandings signed by China with its neighbors, have established and improved mechanisms for talks and meetings with their counterparts in the neighboring countries, and conduct law enforcement and anti-terrorism cooperation to jointly maintain peace and stability in border areas and related sea areas.

Ensuring the Stability of Border Areas

Stability and development of border areas are the foundation for border and coastal defense. The Chinese government attaches great importance to work related to ethnic minorities and economic development in border areas; it has formulated a series of policies and adopted many strategic measures in this regard. In the early days of New China, close to one million PLA officers and men were collectively transferred to civilian work in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Tibet and Inner Mongolia autonomous regions, and Heilongjiang and Yunnan provinces. They were organized into production and construction corps and state farms, and made great contributions to the economic development of the border areas and the maintenance of border stability in those areas. In the 1950s and 1960s, the state moved a large number of industrial enterprises and skilled workers from inland and coastal areas to border areas, and set up a fairly complete industrial system and communications and transportation network there. Since the reform and opening-up policy was initiated in the late 1970s, the state has set up 253 open ports and implemented the strategy for developing the western region and revitalizing old industrial bases including Northeast China. It pursues the policy of developing border areas and making border inhabitants prosperous, and consolidating defense through building close ties with the local people. It has taken steps, including encouraging inland provinces to provide assistance to their border counterparts, to accelerate the economic development there. This has laid a solid foundation for strengthening border and coastal defense.

The PLA border defense force and the border public security force are resolute in maintaining social stability in border areas and unity among ethnic groups, and take an active part in the economic development of border areas. They take measures to crack down hard on cross-border crimes, such as weapon smuggling, drug trafficking, illegal border crossing and human trafficking, and on separatist, violent and terrorist activities. They strictly implement the ethnic and religious policies of the state, respect the customs and lifestyle of ethnic minorities, and strengthen PLA unity with the government and the people, together with unity among ethnic groups, thus contributing to maintaining political stability and promoting social development and progress in border areas.