BEIJING (Reuters) – China on Thursday expressed its "strong discontent" with India over the recent accident of an Indian drone in Chinese territory, an incident that could cause more friction on its disputed border.
Indian and Chinese troops clashed between June and August of this year, at one point they even resorted to scuffling and throwing stones, on a remote plateau near the borders of India, their ally Bhutan and China, at the more serious and prolonged stagnation in decades.
Asian giants with nuclear weapons have tried to develop their ties in recent years, but there is still a deep distrust of their disputed border, which unleashed the war in 1962.
China's Ministry of Defense said in a statement that the Indian drone had crashed in "recent days" but it did not give a location.
"This action by India violated China's territorial sovereignty, we express great dissatisfaction and opposition," Zhang Shuili, a military officer in the command of China's western battle zone, was quoted as saying by the ministry.
"China's border defense forces took a professional and responsible attitude when conducting an inspection of the device," Zhang said, adding that the military will "resolutely defend" China's sovereignty and security.
The Indian Army said that an unmanned aerial vehicle was on a training mission in Indian territory when it developed technical problems and crossed a so-called real control line that separates the armies from the countries.
Indian border guards alerted their Chinese counterparts about the drone soon after, said an Indian army spokesman.
China provided the Indian Army with details on where the drone fell and the Indian authorities were investigating, Colonel Aman Anand said in a statement.
"The matter is being dealt with according to established protocols," Anand said.
China also presented diplomatic "representations" to India, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a press conference.
"China is asking India to stop immediately its use of unmanned aircraft near the border, and to work with China to maintain the peace and tranquility of the border area," he said.
After the weeks of confrontation on the Doklam plateau, the two sides agreed to an "expeditious disengagement" of troops a week before Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met in an effort to repair ties at a summit in China in September.
But the mountainous border remains sensitive for both sides.
In November, China criticized the visit of Indian President Ram Nath Kovind to the remote state of Arunachal Pradesh, which China claims, and said that China opposed any activity of Indian leaders in disputed areas.
Report by Michael Martina; Additional reports by Sanjeev Miglani in NEW DELHI and Christian Shepherd in BEIJING; Edition by Michael Perry, Robert Birsel