The Chinese army today accused the Indian military of stopping the construction of a road in what it claims to be China's "sovereign territory" on the Sikkim section of the India-China border and said the move has "seriously damaged" border peace and tranquillity.
Complicating an already difficult relationship, the Chinese foreign and defence ministries have also accused Indian border guards of crossing into its territory from Sikkim on India's northeastern border with Tibet.
Geng Shuang, a spokesman with China's foreign ministry, said Indian guards "obstructed normal activities" by Chinese forces on the border and called on India to withdraw immediately, according to a ministry statement late on Monday.
He urged India to respect China's territorial integrity and the border treaties signed by the two countries, and said China had already suspended official pilgrimages Mansarovar at the Nathu La Pass, which lies on the frontier between Sikkim and Tibet.
In a separate statement, Chinese defence ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang said recently China had begun the construction of a road in DongLang region, but was stopped by Indian troops crossing the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
"The China-India boundary in Sikkim has delineated by historical treaty. After the independence of India, the Indian government has repeatedly confirmed it in writing acknowledging that both sides have no objection to Sikkim border," the statement said.
"For China to build the road was completely an act of sovereignty on its own territory and the Indian side has no right to interfere," it said.
Earlier, the Chinese side briefed the Indian side on this issue, it added. "In this context, the Indian troops unilaterally provoked trouble which was in violation of the relevant agreement between the two sides and the mutual consensus of between the leaders of the two countries," it said.
"This seriously damaged peace and tranquillity in the border areas. China is committed to developing bilateral relations with India, but also firmly defend its legitimate rights and interests," it said.
"We hope that the Indian side will meet China halfway, and do not take any actions to complicate the boundary problem, and jointly maintain momentum of good development of bilateral relations".
A spokesman for the Indian Army declined to comment but said the army would issue a statement on Tuesday. India's defence ministry did not immediately respond to media requests for comment.
Nathu La connects India to Hindu and Buddhist sites in the region and was the site of a fierce border clash between Chinese and Indian troops in 1967.
After the India-China war of 1962, the area has been under the Indian Army and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police, which is India's border guarding force and has a camp 15km from the international border.
China in June stopped a batch of 47 Indian pilgrims from crossing through Nathu La border in Sikkim into Tibet to visit Kailash and Manasarovar.