India, China joint military exercises
An Indian army officer (L) talks with a Chinese soldier at the Nathu-la passReuters

China has shut down the Nathu La pass in Sikkim and also denied entry to pilgrims visiting the Kailash Mansarovar in Tibet. The move comes after a skirmish between the armed forces on the border over "security reasons."

While the Indian side has said that the Chinese troops intruded into the Indian border in Sikkim and destroyed bunkers, the People's Liberation Army accused India of creating issues by halting a road construction in the area.

Speaking about the incident, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said: "Recently, the Indian border guards in the Sino-Indian border Sikkim section crossed the border into the territory of China, obstructed the Chinese border troops in the Donglong area from conducting normal activities. China has taken corresponding measures," reported India Today.

"At the same time, in view of the above events, for security reasons, the Chinese side had to suspend the arrangement of the Indian official pilgrimage group through the Sino-Indian border at Nathu La pass, Sikkim, into the pilgrimage, and through diplomatic channels informed the Indian side."

About 47 Kailash Mansarovar pilgrims were not allowed entry between June 19 and 23 in Sikkim, but those taking the other route in Uttarakhand are still being allowed to enter the region.

The Chinese side has also asked India to "respect the border treaty" and "respect the territorial sovereignty of China, carry out the immediate withdrawal of border border officials and thoroughly investigate the matter, to maintain peace and tranquility in the Sikkim section of the Sino-Indian border."

Nathu La
Nathu La closed after border skirmishReuters

China also explained that India has no right to interfere in what it does within its territory.

Meanwhile, the Global Times has said that China has always welcomed pilgrims into their territory and it is India that is creating trouble for these pilgrims by increasing the army presence at the border. China also explained that the pilgrims were in fact denied entry not because of the skirmish, but because of bad weather in the region.

"China has always constructed and added routes for pilgrims. The bad weather would be the main reason for the refusal of entry of the 47 pilgrims," Zhao Gancheng, director of the Center for Asia-Pacific Studies of the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, told the Global Times.

"Despite China's efforts for improving passes for pilgrims, India has added difficulties for pilgrims to guard against China," Zhu Weiqun, chairman of the Ethnic and Religious Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, added.