China denies its troops crossed into India

BEIJING (AFP) - China dismissed as "speculation" on Monday complaints in New Delhi that its troops had crossed into Indian territory and set up a camp in a remote disputed area of the Himalayas.

The Indian government claimed at the weekend that soldiers from the People's Liberation Army (PLA) entered the northeast of Ladakh and erected a camp on the night of April 15.

The de facto border separating China and India is known as the Line of Actual Control (LAC). While it has never been formally demarcated, the countries signed two accords to maintain peace in frontier areas in 1993 and 1996.

"China's frontier troops have been abiding by the agreement between the two countries and abide by the actual line of control between the two countries," foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a regular news briefing.

Asked about apparent worries in New Delhi, she said it was "only the speculation of some Indian people".

"Our troops are patrolling on the Chinese side of the actual line of control and have never trespassed the line," she added.

Tension at the border is a regular feature and the Indian press frequently reports on apparent incursions by Chinese troops as well as the build-up of Chinese military forces and infrastructure in frontier areas of Tibet.

According to Indian reports the Chinese troops have remained at the same position since arriving last Monday, but officials in the Indian defence and foreign ministries declined to comment about the incident to AFP.

Relations between the giant neighbours are often prickly and marked by mutual suspicion - a legacy of a brief border war in 1962 that was waged in Ladakh and in the northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh.

India's The Hindu newspaper reported recently that Chinese Premier Li Keqiang was set to visit New Delhi next month as part of efforts to boost confidence between the world's most populous countries.

"We believe the current China-India relations have been in a fine shape, there is good communication and coordination on the boundary issue. The border areas are in a peaceful condition," Hua added at Monday's briefing.

A government source, talking to AFP about the alleged incursion at the weekend, said New Delhi was confident it could settle the high-altitude territorial dispute "peacefully" through diplomatic channels.

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