The Chinese defense ministry is accusing India’s army of illegally trespassing into its borders and obstructing work on a road, further destabilizing border relations between the two countries.
Indian border guards were accused of crossing into its territory from the state of Sikkim on India’s northeastern border with Tibet. In a statement, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said Indian guards “obstructed normal activities” by Chinese forces on the border and called on India to pull out at once.
In a separate statement, the Chinese Defense Ministry said “China is dedicated to developing bilateral relations, and will staunchly defend its legitimate rights … China hopes India will meet it halfway, not do anything to complicate the border issues and jointly maintain the good momentum of relations.”
This latest episode adds more pressure to the already tense relations between Beijing and India. China has suspended pilgrimages at the Nathu La Pass, which lies on the frontier between Sikkim state and Tibet. Nathu La was also the setting of border clashes between Chinese and Indian soldiers in 1967. India remains angered by China’s support of Pakistan. Indian officials also backed out of attending the Belt and Road summit aimed at ramping up economic development and political ties in the region.
Adding fuel to the fire, the Dalai Lama – spiritual leader to Tibetans and war mongering separatist to the Communist Party – attended a region controlled by India but claimed by China.
The Indian government is expected to make a formal statement on the recent border matter.