China protests India’s drone ‘intrusion’ in Sikkim sector

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China said on Thursday an Indian drone “intruded” into its airspace and crashed in the Sikkim sector which includes Dokalam, prompting Beijing to lodge a diplomatic protest with India over the violation of China’s territorial sovereignty.

China’s Defence Ministry and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the Indian unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) crashed into the Chinese side of the border recently.

“Recently an Indian Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, (UAV) invaded China’s airspace and crashed in the Sikkim section of China-India border,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a media briefing here.

However, there was no immediate response from the Indian Defence Ministry.

He said the Chinese border troops had taken a “professional and responsible attitude” to verify the device.

“I want to point out that the Sikkim section of the China India border has been delimited,” he said, in an apparent reference to the 1890 China-British Treaty.

Geng did not spell out when the incident had taken place.

He said further details can be obtained from the Chinese military.

Beijing often referred to the 1890 Britain-China treaty during the lengthy Dokalam standoff, stating that it has defined the Sikkim section of the boundary with Tibet, therefore the border in that area has been settled.

“The action of the Indian side violated China’s sovereignty and it is not conducive to the peace and tranquillity of the border area and China is dissatisfied with this and lodged solemn representation with the Indian side,” Geng said.

In its diplomatic protest to India, “China asked the Indian side to stop the activities of the devices near the border and work with China to maintain peace and tranquillity of the border areas”, he said.

Geng declined to reveal the details of the drone. He did not confirm whether it has taken place near the Dokalam where the two countries were locked in a 73-day-long border standoff, which ended on August 28.

The standoff ended after Chinese troops stopped building a key road close to India’s Chicken Neck corridor.

India had objected to the construction highlighting its security concerns. The road was being built by the Chinese troops in the area also claimed by Bhutan.

Asked whether the protest was lodged in Beijing or Delhi, he said he is not aware of the details.

“I know that China has lodged solemn representation to the Indian side,” he said.