Beijing: Hours after China claimed an Indian drone had “intruded” into its airspace and crashed in the Sikkim sector, which includes Doklam, Indian Army explained that a drone had indeed crossed over into Chinese territory after a technical problem and the neighbouring country’s soldiers had been alerted in keeping with protocol.
The UAV was on a regular training mission inside Indian territory when it lost contact with ground control and crossed over to the LAC in the Sikkim sector, the Indian statement further said. The incident has come to light days before Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s visit to attend the Russia-India-China trilateral meeting.
Beijing had lodged a diplomatic protest with India over the violation of its territorial sovereignty. The unmanned aerial vehicle had ‘invaded’ and ‘crashed’ on the Chinese side of the border, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a media briefing here. He also 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 has lodged a solemn representation with the Indian side,” Geng said.
In its diplomatic protest to India, “China asked the Indian side to stop the activities of its devices near the border and work with China to maintain peace and tranquillity in the border areas”, he said.
Geng declined to reveal the details of the drone. He did not confirm whether the incident had taken place near 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.