International Relations

China’s renaming campaign violates international law

China’s recent decision to rename 11 locations in Arunachal Pradesh and standardise those names based on a map is an exercise in the Chinese perspective of international law, which contradicts the international law commonly adhered to by most United Nations members.

China’s Historical Basis for Claims

  • China’s claims to contested areas, such as the South China Sea, are frequently based on historical records, maps, and cultural treasures.
  • China claims that these lands have been its domain since the Song Dynasty and should hence be considered sovereign territory. This approach, however, is not recognised by international law and undermines the foundation of the international legal system.

The Chinese viewpoint on international law

  • Jurisdictional rights: The Chinese view of international law is founded on a heavy emphasis on the notion of sovereignty. Sovereign states, according to this viewpoint, have an innate right to exercise sovereignty over their territory and people without interference from other governments.
  • Historic rights: China mixes its idea of sovereignty with the historic right to exercise authority over lands or maritime areas ruled by a Chinese dynasty in the mediaeval or ancient eras.
  • Undermines international legal system: China’s historic right approach undermines the foundation of the international legal system, which is based on sovereign equality of nations and universal standards of international law.

International courts and tribunals are being violated.

  • Contravenes international court and tribunal rulings: China’s attempt to rename 11 contested localities on historical and administrative grounds violates international court and tribunal decisions.
  • There are no persuasive proofs: The International Court of Justice (ICJ) regards direct evidence of possession and real exercise of sovereignty to be more convincing proof of title to a territory than indirect presumption based on historical events.
  • Against the uti possidetis juris principle: China’s renaming exercise violates the concept of uti possidetis juris, which holds that the frontiers of newly independent states should be the same as those of past colonies.
  • Cartographic materials are used to bolster China’s territorial and maritime claims, however cartographic materials have no legal validity in and of themselves. They are extrinsic evidence of different reliability that can be used in conjunction with other evidence to establish a fact, depending on the circumstances.

What is the uti possidetis juris principle?

  • The uti possidetis juris principle is a Latin term that translates “as you possess under law.”
  • It is a norm of international law that emerged throughout the process of decolonization. According to the notion, newly independent states should inherit the territorial limits that existed at the time of their independence.
  • The premise is that the geographical integrity of a new state should be safeguarded and that the state’s limits should not be changed without the state’s agreement.
  • The idea of uti possidetis juris is intended to prevent territorial boundary disputes that could lead to instability or conflict.

China’s actions have ramifications

  • China’s actions in Arunachal Pradesh undermine the international legal system, which is founded on sovereign equality and general standards of international law.
  • Other nations having territorial disputes with China are concerned about China’s historic right approach to sovereignty over territory and marine areas.
  • The use of maps by China to bolster its territorial and maritime claims is a legally invalid argument that undermines the legal basis for resolving territorial disputes.

@the end

China’s attempt to rename disputed territory in Arunachal Pradesh violates accepted international law principles and undermines state sovereignty. International law does not recognise the use of historical claims and maps to support territorial and maritime claims. This rebranding exercise is likely to aggravate India-China relations and have an influence on regional stability. It is critical to respect international law norms in order to ensure the independence and stability of new states and to avoid challenges to territorial boundaries.

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