“According to the treaty, “zhe” is the ancient name of Sikkim“, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said in a statement.
China today accused Indian troops of “crossing the boundary” in the Sikkim section and demanded their immediate withdrawal, while asserting that it has shut down the Nathu La pass entry for Indian pilgrims travelling to Kailash Mansarovar because of the border standoff.
The Chinese statement came days after China denied entry to the first batch of almost 50 Indian pilgrims who were scheduled to travel to Kailash Mansarovar through the Nathu La pass. They were scheduled to cross over to the Chinese side on 19 June but failed to do so due to inclement weather and had to wait at the base camp.
Reportedly, around 50 people in Sikkim were stuck near the Nathula Pass after the Chinese side closed the gates, citing landslide in Tibet.
The Chinese officials said they were concerned about the safety of the Indian pilgrims which is why they were stopped from proceeding further.
“Yes, there are some difficulties being experienced in the movement of yatris via Nathu La and the matter is being discussed with the Chinese side”, Indian foreign ministry spokesperson Gopal Baglay had said to a question on the yatra being disrupted through Nathu La route.
“Unfortunately in the very first year, China has unilaterally and without reason blocked the Mansarovar Yatra“, said Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala.
Meanwhile, China said the decision to suspend the pilgrimage was due to a border stand-off and alleged that the Indian troops had crossed the Sikkim section of the Indo-China border.
The Nathu-La route, which is the second route for the Kailash yatra, was launched with fanfare by the two countries in 2015.
There are two routes to get to Mount Kailash, considered the abode of Lord Shiva and of religious significance to Hindus, Jains and Buddhists – through a pass in Uttarakhand, which was ravaged by floods in the hill state in 2013, and through the Nathu La pass in Sikkim.
The Chinese protest comes after a warm personal meeting earlier this month between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Astana, on the sidelines of the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation.
In the meeting, Modi had said the two sides should tap their potential in cooperation, strengthen communication and coordination in worldwide affairs, respect each others core concerns and appropriately handle their disputes.