China lodges protest over border trespass by Indian troops

India obstructed normal activities by China forces on Sikkim-Tibet border, says Beijing

BEIJING •China has made a formal protest after accusing Indian border guards of crossing into its territory from the state of Sikkim on India's north-eastern border with Tibet, the Chinese Foreign and Defence ministries have said.

"Our position to uphold our territorial sovereignty is unwavering," Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a regular press briefing yesterday, adding that China has lodged "solemn representations" with India.

"We hope that the Indian side can work with China in the same direction and take actions to withdraw the personnel who have overstepped and trespassed into Chinese borders."

On Monday, Mr Geng Shuang, another Foreign Ministry spokesman, said in a statement that Indian guards "obstructed normal activities" by Chinese forces on the border, and called on India to withdraw immediately.

He urged India to respect China's territorial integrity and the border treaties signed by the two countries, and said China had already suspended official pilgrimages at the Nathu La Pass, which lies on the frontier between Sikkim state and Tibet.

A separate statement released by the Defence Ministry said the incident had "seriously endangered peace and tranquillity in the border areas", adding that the Indian military has "unilaterally stirred up trouble" by its actions.

"China is dedicated to developing bilateral relations, and will staunchly defend its legitimate rights," it said. "China hopes India will meet it halfway, not do anything to complicate the border issues and jointly maintain the good momentum of relations," the Defence Ministry said.

A spokesman for the Indian Army declined to comment but said the army would issue a statement yesterday. India's Defence Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Nathu La connects India to Hindu and Buddhist sites in the region and was also the site of a fierce border clash between Chinese and Indian troops in 1967.

Ties between China and India have long been frosty as a result of long-term territorial disputes as well as Beijing's support of Pakistan, India's rival. Indian leaders declined to attend China's Belt and Road summit aimed at boosting regional economic and political ties last month.

Chinese President Xi Jinping told Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier this month that the two countries should work to "appropriately" manage their differences.

The Indian government has since taken steps to cool tensions, rejecting an Australian request to take part in joint naval exercises with the United States and Japan last month to avoid antagonising China.

Mr Modi is expected to visit China in September to attend a Brics - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - summit.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 28, 2017, with the headline 'China lodges protest over border trespass by Indian troops'. Print Edition | Subscribe