NEW DELHI :
India on Thursday rejected Chinese claims that Indian troops had entered Chinese territory and were “blocking" its troops from patrolling across the border from Sikkim and Ladakh.
In fact, New Delhi said recent activities of Chinese troops were hindering Indian patrolling along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
Indian foreign ministry spokesman Anurag Srivastava told reporters that Indian troops were “fully familiar with the alignment of the LAC" in the India-China border areas and abided by it “scrupulously".
Tensions between the two sides escalated with China accusing India of trying to change the status quo along the LAC, the de-facto border between the two countries.
In a significant development, India also reiterated its support for the “freedom of navigation and over flight and unimpeded lawful commerce" in the South China Sea and called for “any differences (to) be resolved peacefully by respecting the legal and diplomatic processes and without resorting to threat or use of force".
India described the South China Sea as a “global commons".
This was the first official statement by New Delhi since China said in mid-April that it has established new administrative districts on Spratly and Paracel Islands in the South China Sea, and notified names to some 80 islands, reefs and other geographical features around the two archipelagos to stake claim of them.
On the recent border tensions between India and China, Srivastava said: “Any suggestion that Indian troops had undertaken activity across the LAC in the western sector or the Sikkim sector is not accurate. All Indian activities are entirely on the Indian side of the LAC."
According to the Indian Army, it had confronted Chinese troops on at least two occasions recently—on 5 May in eastern Ladakh and on 9 May in north Sikkim. On both occasions the two armies physically engaged each other, causing injuries on both sides.
Both countries have brought in reinforcements to Demchok, Daulat Beg Oldie and around the Galwan river, as well as at Pangong Tso lake in Ladakh, two people said, requesting anonymity. The two incidents were the most contentious since the 2017 standoff between Indian and Chinese troops at the Doklam plateau in Bhutan, which lasted 73 days.
Srivastava said both sides were “engaged with each other to address any immediate issues". “(India) has always taken a very responsible approach towards border management. At the same time, we are deeply committed to ensuring India’s sovereignty and security."
“The Indian troops strictly follow the procedures laid down in various bilateral agreements and protocols to resolve any situations which may arise due to difference in perception of LAC. The two sides have established mechanisms to resolve such situations peacefully through dialogue," he added.
India “remains firmly committed to work for the common objective of maintenance of peace and tranquillity in border areas. This is an essential prerequisite to the further development of Indian-China bilateral relations."
“India also believes that any differences be resolved peacefully by respecting the legal and diplomatic processes and without resorting to threat or use of force," he said. “South China Sea is a part of global commons and India has an abiding interest in peace and stability in the region."
China claims the whole of the South China Sea disregarding claims by Phillipines, Vietnam, Malaysia and others.