China’s foreign ministry on Thursday said India has been building up troops and repairing roads along its side of the border amid an increasingly tense stand-off in a remote frontier region beside the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan.
The stand-off on a plateau next to the mountainous Indian state of Sikkim, which borders China, has ratcheted up tension between the neighbours, who share a 3,500km frontier, large parts of which are disputed.
‘It has already been more than a month since the incident, and India is still not only illegally remaining on Chinese territory, it is also repairing roads in the rear, stocking up supplies, massing a large number of armed personnel,’ the foreign ministry said in a statement. ‘This is certainly not for peace,’ it added.
Early in June, according to the Chinese interpretation of events, Indian guards crossed into China’s Donglang region and obstructed work on a road on the plateau.
The two sides’ troops then confronted each other close to a valley controlled by China that separates India from its close ally, Bhutan, and gives China access to the so-called Chicken’s Neck, a thin strip of land connecting India and its remote north-eastern regions.
India has said it warned China that construction of the road near their common border would have serious security implications. Despite China’s numerous diplomatic representations, its foreign ministry said, India has not only not withdrawn its troops but has also been making ‘unreasonable demands’ and is not sincere about a resolution.
‘If India really cherishes peace, it ought to immediately withdraw its personnel who have illegally crossed the border into the Indian side.’ China’s defence ministry last month warned India not to harbour any illusions about the Chinese military’s ability to defend its territory.
Indian prime minister Narendra Modi is to visit China early in September for a summit of BRICS leaders. Indian officials say about 300 soldiers from either side are facing each other about 150m apart on the plateau.
They said that both sides’ diplomats have quietly engaged to try to keep the stand-off from escalating, and that India’s ambassador to Beijing is leading the effort to find a way for both sides to back down without loss of face.
Chinese state media have warned India of a fate worse than the defeat it suffered in a brief border war in 1962. China’s military has held live fire drills close to the disputed area, they said last month.
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