Indian and Chinese troops were involved in a “minor face-off” last week in a disputed stretch of their shared border in the eastern Himalayas, the Indian army said, underlining the fraught situation at the border, Al Jazeera reported.
China on Monday said the two sides must refrain from escalatory actions. Nuclear-armed India and China have been in a tense standoff since April in the western Himalayas and have bolstered forces all along the 3,800-km (2,350-mile) border.
“It is clarified that there was a minor face-off at Naku La area of North Sikkim on 20 January 2021 and the same was resolved by local commanders as per established protocols,” the Indian army said in a statement on Monday. It gave no details.
Naku La connects the Indian state of Sikkim to the Tibet region in China.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said he didn’t have anything to offer on the incident but urged India to exercise restraint.
“I would like to stress though that China’s border troops are committed to upholding peace and tranquillity along the border with India. We urge the Indian side to work in the same direction as us and refrain from actions that might escalate or complicate the situation along the border,” he told a regular news briefing.
“We hope both sides will take proper actions to manage their differences and take concrete actions to safeguard peace and stability along the border.”
Sikkim is in the eastern Himalayas, thousands of miles away from Ladakh where the military crisis began last year and erupted into a hand-to-hand combat that left 20 Indian soldiers dead and an unspecified number of Chinese casualties.
Indian media reports said the latest row in Sikkim had resulted in injuries on both sides. The military offered no comment but advised caution on such reports.
“Media is requested to refrain from overplaying or exaggerating reports which are factually incorrect,” it said.
On Sunday, India and Chinese military commanders held talks running for several hours to try and find a way out of the stalemate. Several rounds of talks have been held over the past few months to disengage troops facing each other off on inhospitable mountains in freezing temperatures.