Months after a tense standoff between China and India along their Himalayan border, Beijing on Thursday expressed anger at an Indian drone that crashed inside its territory.
“This action by India violated China’s territorial sovereignty. We express strong dissatisfaction and opposition,” Xinhua cited Zhang Shuili, a senior military official in China’s western battle zone command, as saying.
China said the drone crashed in “recent days” but didn’t say where. Zhang said his country would defend its national sovereignty against such intrusions.
He said China’s border defense forces conducted “an inspection of the device,” but didn’t elaborate.
India has not responded to the charge.
Although the two countries have made moves toward warmer relations in recent years, they also have a long history of border tensions. In 1962, they fought a brief, but inconclusive border conflict. They have also had ongoing disputes over sovereignty in other border areas, notably Aksai Chin, a Himalayan region that straddles their territorial demarcation in the west.
The two countries have also long been at odds over India’s hosting of Tibet’s government-in-exile and their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, considered by China to be subversive because of his calls for Tibetan independence.
Starting in June this year, tensions flared again over a disputed region called the Doklam Plateau that borders China, Bhutan and the Indian state of Sikkim.
As NPR’s Julie McCarthy reported from New Delhi in July, the problems stemmed from China’s construction of a road in Doklam Plateau. “Not far from the plateau lies the narrow passage that connects India’s northeast states with the rest of the country — a strategic link called the Siliguri Corridor but more commonly known as the “Chicken’s Neck.” Any possibility of China being able to sever that “neck” unnerves India.
As late as August, India had rushed troops to Doklam Plateau and although an immediate conflict was avoided, heated rhetoric on both sides has soured relations.
In September, India’s army chief said that his country “could not afford to be complacent and must be prepared for war,” according to The Hindustan Times.
And in November, China took umbrage at Indian President Ram Nath Kovind’s visit to the remote state of Arunachal Pradesh, which China also claims, Reuters reports.