India's remarks on PLA troop presence in PoK groundless: China
Beijing: China on Thursday dismissed as "entirely groundless" Indian Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh's assertion that PLA soldiers were present in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
"The allegation that Chinese soldiers are present in the Pakistan-administered Kashmir is entirely groundless," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said.
Hong first skipped answering a question on Gen Singh's charge at a media briefing here, but later sent an e-mail to a news agency denying the allegation.
Gen Singh said in New Delhi yesterday that Chinese soldiers were present in PoK to provide security to its ongoing railways and road projects there.
"We are told that Chinese soldiers are there to provide protection to their ongoing projects related to their railways, road and hydro-electric projects and it is basically for security purposes," the Army Chief said. "We have already conveyed this to the Government and whatever is there, we have our frontiers guarded well."
The issue of the presence of Chinese troops in PoK has been in news since September 2010, after the US media reported that about 7,000 to 11,000 People's Liberation Army (PLA) troops were present in PoK.
China subsequently clarified to Indian Ambassador S Jaiashankar, when he took up the issue with top officials here, that its personnel were present in PoK to help people affected by the floods which ravaged the area in 2010.
While denying the Chinese troops' presence, Hong stated today that China's stand on Kashmir remained clear and consistent that it was an issue to be resolved by India and Pakistan through negotiations.
"Kashmir is left over (by history) between India and Pakistan. As a neighbour of India and Pakistan, China maintains that the relevant issue be resolved through dialogue and negotiations between India and Pakistan."