China said on Thursday it would look into Defence Minster A.K. Antony’s statement this week claiming that Chinese helicopters had entered into Indian airspace over Himachal Pradesh on at least two occasions in March.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Liu Weimin said Chinese authorities needed to verify his claims, but stressed that China wanted both sides to maintain peace and stability in border areas pending resolution of the long-running dispute.
"China’s position on the border issue has been consistent and clear,” he said. “We will continue to resolve the border issue through negotiation and consultations.”
Mr. Liu said he had seen “relevant press reports” on Mr. Antony’s written reply to the Rajya Sabha. “We still need to verify relevant information,” he said.
Mr. Antony had said that two Chinese helicopters were observed flying over Indian airspace near the border in Himachal Pradesh on March 16. Another alleged intrusion was observed on March 19.
He played down the incidents, saying that incidents of transgressions were taken up with the Chinese authorities through established mechanisms including flag meetings, border personnel meetings and diplomatic channels.
In March, both countries held the first meeting of a newly set up border consultation and coordination mechanism in Beijing, during, which officials agreed to meet once or twice a year and hold, when needed, emergency consultations either through meetings or by telephone or video conferencing.
The mechanism, officials said, will boost exchanges between military personnel and reduce mistrust to avoid any incidents. The meeting also discussed confidence building measures on the boundary dispute, such as opening an alternate route for the Kailash Manasarovar Yatra and additional items for border trade through the Nathu La Pass in Sikkim.