China has accused Indian border guards of crossing into its territory from the state of Sikkim on India’s northeastern border with Tibet, the Chinese foreign and defence ministries have said. Geng Shuang, a spokesman with China’s foreign ministry, said Indian guards “obstructed normal activities” by Chinese forces on the border and called on India to withdraw immediately, according to a ministry statement late on Monday. 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.
Nathu La connects India to Hindu and Buddhist sites in the region and was the site of a fierce border clash between Chinese and Indian troops in 1967. China’s Defence Ministry said in a separate statement India’s military had obstructed work on a road, a move it described as seriously threatening peace on the border. “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. 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, and Indian leaders declined to attend China’s “Belt and Road” summit aimed at boosting regional economic and political ties last month.