China says an Indian drone recently violated Chinese airspace and territorial sovereignty but crashed on its own.
The Chinese Defense Ministry made the announcement on Thursday.
“This action by India violated China’s territorial sovereignty. We express strong dissatisfaction and opposition,” said Zhang Shuili, the deputy director of China’s army in the western battle zone command.
“China’s border defense forces took a professional and responsible attitude in conducting an inspection of the device,” Zhang said, adding that the drone had crashed in “recent days,” without specifying the exact time and location.
“We will earnestly fulfill our mission of duty and firmly defend the sovereignty and security of our country,” the senior military official said.
The Indian Embassy in Beijing has so far declined to comment on the incident.
China and India have tried to develop their bilateral relations over the past years but there has been deep distrust over a border dispute.
That dispute worsened in mid-June after Chinese troops began building a road on the remote Doklam Plateau, which is disputed between China and India’s ally, Bhutan. India itself does not claim the territory but has a military presence in Bhutan.
India intervened by moving soldiers into the flashpoint to stop the Chinese construction, prompting Beijing to accuse it of trespassing on Chinese soil. The deployment infuriated Beijing, which retaliated by shutting down a nearby mountain pass that Indian pilgrims used to reach Mount Kailash, a sacred Hindu and Buddhist site in Tibet.
In November, China also censured a visit by Indian President Ram Nath Kovind to the remote state of Arunachal Pradesh, over which China has claims, saying Beijing opposed any activities by Indian leaders in disputed areas.
Heated rhetoric in both Beijing and New Delhi has raised concern over a renewal of hostilities that resulted in a short but deadly frontier war between the two sides in 1962, in which China emerged victorious.
The nuclear-armed powers share a 3,500-kilometer border, much of it is disputed between the two neighbors.