Beijing on Friday dismissed reports that the Chinese Army was locked in a stand-off with Indian troops in Leh over an irrigation project commissioned by Delhi under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said that both forces should refrain from taking any action that might “unilaterally change” the status quo of the Line of Actual Control in the region, PTI reported.

“I can tell you that the Chinese border troops have been operating on the Chinese side of the LAC. Although the China-India boundary is yet to be delimited, the two countries have reached consensus and many agreements on safeguarding the peace and stability of the border area,” Hua said in Beijing. She also blamed the Indian media for playing up the issue. On Thursday, reports surfaced suggesting that there has been a stand-off between the forces in Demchok sector over the construction work for an irrigation canal since Wednesday.

The ministry official said that “currently the two countries have an effective communication through series of mechanisms. We believe that we can maintain peace and tranquility of the border area”.

The countries share around 4,000 km of disputed and unsettled boundaries running from Jammu and Kashmir to Arunachal Pradesh. In 2014, an irrigation project under the MNREGA scheme in the area led to a similar situation after the People's Liberation Army raised objections against it.

Relations between the two countries have deteriorated over the past year because of several factors, including China’s displeasure over the Dalai Lama possibly visiting Arunachal Pradesh, and a boycott of Chinese goods sold in Indian markets. China has also blocked India’s bid to ban Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Masood Azhar at the United Nations, and is continuing plans for its Economic Corridor with Pakistan in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. Ties have also been affected by the worsening of India’s relations with Pakistan.