China on Tuesday lodged a strong protest with India over the alleged “crossing of boundary” by its troops in the Sikkim sector and demanded their immediate withdrawal, as Beijing warned that future visits of Indian pilgrims to Kailash Mansarovar will depend on resolution of the standoff.
“Our position to uphold our territorial sovereignty is unwavering. We hope the Indian side can work with China in the same direction and immediately withdraw the personnel who have overstepped and trespassed into the Chinese border,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a media briefing here.
“We have lodged solemn representations in Beijing and New Delhi to elaborate on our solemn position,” he said.
About the fate of the pilgrims headed to Kailash and Mansarovar, who had returned to Gangtok after denial of permission by China to enter Tibet, Mr Lu said their visit was called off because of security reasons. He also linked the future visits of pilgrims to India “withdrawing the troops” from the area.
“As to the Indian pilgrims’ journey through Nathu-La Pass at Sikkim section, I think the Indian side is very clear about this. For a long time the Chinese government has made enormous efforts to provide the necessary convenience to those Indian pilgrims,” Mr Lu said.
“But recently the Indian border personnel trespassed (into the) Chinese border to obstruct our construction, we have taken necessary actions. Out of security considerations we have to put off the pilgrimage by the Indian pilgrims through the Chinese pass,” he said.
“On upcoming actions, we have to depend on what the Indian side will do. They have to take action to improve the security situation,” Mr Lu said.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang jad said Monday night: “China urges India to immediately withdraw its border guards that have crossed the boundary and have a thorough investigation of this matter.”
“The Indian border guards crossed the boundary in the Sikkim section of the China-India border and entered the territory of China, and obstructed normal activities of Chinese frontier forces in the Donglang area recently, and the Chinese side has taken counter-measures,” he said in a statement.
His statement came after the Chinese defence ministry accused Indian troops of objecting to building a road in what it claimed was Chinese territory. The dispute over the construction of a road was apparently the reason why China stopped a batch of 47 Indian pilgrims from crossing through the Nathu-La border in Sikkim into Tibet to visit Kailash Mansarovar.