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India lodges strong protest with China over map claiming 'India's territory'

FILE PHOTO: A liquefied petroleum gas delivery truck drives along India's Tezpur-Tawang highway which runs to the Chinese border, in the northeastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India said on Tuesday that it had lodged a strong protest with China over a new map that lays claim to India's territory, the latest irritant in testy ties between the Asian giants.

The protest by New Delhi followed reports in the Indian media that Beijing had released an official "standard map" showing the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh and the Aksai Chin plateau as its official territory.

China claims Arunachal Pradesh in the eastern Himalayas to be a part of southern Tibet and had in April released a map renaming 11 places in the state as being within "Zangnan", or southern Tibet in Chinese.

Aksai Chin is a disputed plateau in the western Himalayas claimed by India but controlled by China.

"We have today lodged a strong protest through diplomatic channels with the Chinese side on the so-called 2023 'standard map' of China that lays claim to India;s territory," the Indian foreign ministry spokesperson said.

"We reject these claims as they have no basis. Such steps by the Chinese side only complicate the resolution of the boundary question," he said.

Earlier on Tuesday, India's foreign minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar dismissed China's territorial claims.

"Making absurd claims on India's territory does not make it China's territory," Jaishankar told news channel NDTV.

New Delhi's protest comes days after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to China's President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in Johannesburg last week and highlighted concerns about the stand-off on their disputed Himalayan frontier.

Relations between the two nuclear-armed neighbours have plummeted after soldiers from both sides clashed in the Himalayas in June 2020, resulting in the death of 20 Indian soldiers and four Chinese troops.

While the situation on the nearly 3,000-km (1,860-mile)frontier has been calm since, the face-off continues in a few pockets with tens of thousands of soldiers amassed on both sides of the frontier in the western Himalayas.

(Reporting by YP Rajesh; Additional reporting by Rupam Jain and Sakshi Dayal; Editing by Alex Richardson)