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China says citizens arrested in India were tourists

world Updated: Jan 20, 2011 14:49 IST

China said on Thursday that three of its nationals who were arrested in India on suspicion of money laundering and spying on border security camps were actually tourists who mistakenly crossed the border from Nepal.

"Related reports do not reflect reality. Recently, some Chinese tourists were on holiday on the Nepal-India border and mistakenly entered India and were detained by Indian police," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said.

"China's embassy in India is finding out more details from the Indian side, and demands India deals appropriately with the situation," Hong added at a regular news briefing. He did not elaborate.

The arrests were made in Uttar Pradesh state close to India's border with Nepal, Indian police said on Wednesday, adding that the accused, including a woman, said they were employees of Chinese telecoms equipment maker Huawei Technologies .

Huawei said the company was aware of the arrests and was cooperating with local authorities to determine the facts.

The arrests came a few weeks after Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao visited India in a display of warmth that, however, failed to lift the veil of suspicion between the two nations or resolve a disputed border, a legacy from their brief 1962 war.

Last year, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh warned that China, India's main rival for regional resources and geopolitical clout, was seeking to expand its influence in South Asia.

Those comments came after India briefly banned imports of Chinese telecoms gear over spying fears.