China says Indian drone crashed near border, lodges protest
China on Thursday said an Indian drone "invaded" its airspace and crashed in the Sikkim section of the border where the two countries were locked in a 73-day military stand-off. New Delhi said the drone crossed the border by mistake.
The Foreign Ministry said China lodged a protest with India over the development and warned New Delhi not to use such devices near the border area any more.
"Recently an Indian unmanned aircraft invaded China's airspace and crashed in the Sikkim section of China-India border," Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said.
Chinese and Indian militaries had over a two-month standoff at Doklam in the Sikkim section of their border. The Indian Army had objected to road building by China's PLA in Doklam, which is also claimed by Bhutan.
The Indian Defence Ministry said the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) was on a regular training mission inside Indian territory when it lost control with the ground control due to "some technical problems and crossed over the Line of Actual Control".
The Ministry standard protocol was followed and Indian border security personnel immediately alerted their Chinese counterparts to locate the UAV.
Asked if the drone was found in the Sikkim region, Geng said he did not have information about that.
"The Chinese border troops took professional and responsible attitude and verified the device," he said.
"I want to point out that the Sikkim section of China-India border has been delimited and Chinese side along the borderline is China's territory.
"The action of the Indian side violated China's sovereignty and it's not conducive to the peace and tranquility in the border area.
"China is dissatisfied with this and lodged a solemn representation with the Indian side.
"China asked the Indian side to stop the activities of the devices near the border and work with China to maintain peace and tranquility of the border areas," Geng added.
Earlier, Zhang Shuili, deputy head of the combat bureau of the Western Theatre Command's Joint Staff Department, said an "Indian UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) intruded into China's airspace and crashed recently, and Chinese border troops have conducted identification and verification over the vehicle.
"India's move has infringed upon China's territorial sovereignty and we are strongly dissatisfied with and opposed to this. We will ... defend China's national sovereignty and security resolutely," he added.
The incident comes ahead of Foreign Minister Wang Yi's India visit to attend the Russia-India-China meet. Wang will meet his Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj.
Asked if the incident will have a negative impact on the bilateral meet, Geng said: "I think Foreign Minister Wang Yi's visit's goal is to attend the foreign ministers' meeting." - IANS