NEW DELHI — Two weeks ago, Indian military officials announced that they had discovered that a platoon of Chinese soldiers had crossed the de facto border between the two countries and set up camp an unprecedented six miles inside Indian-claimed territory, sparking a still-unresolved standoff.
China’s Foreign Ministry said last week that its troops were patrolling on the Chinese side of the border and “never trespassed the line.”
Such disputes have a long history. But the latest incident, in a previously uncontested area, involves the most serious accusations by India in 25 years and is posing a challenge for the countries’ diplomats ahead of a visit to New Delhi by China’s new premier, Li Keqiang, this month.
New Delhi and Beijing have indicated that they do not want the border disagreement to derail their broader relationship.
Indian officials at first underplayed the alleged incursion. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called it a “localized” problem and said his government did not want to “accentuate” it. Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid described the dispute as an “acne” that could be addressed “by simply applying an ointment.”