He said that Indian troops crossed the so-called Line of Actual Control which separates the Chinese and the Indian controlled areas.
The Indian Army on Tuesday said 20 Army personnel, including a colonel, were killed on Monday night in the biggest ever military confrontation between the two armies in over five decades.
"Both sides agree to resolve this matter through dialogue and consultation and make efforts to ease the situation and safeguard peace and tranquility in the border area", Lijian said at a daily briefing.
Pressure is growing on Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to respond to the incident, in which at least 20 Indian soldiers died and many more were injured, according to a statement from the army. The 17 others died after being "critically injured in the line of duty and exposed to sub-zero temperatures in the high-altitude terrain", it said in a statement Tuesday that did not disclose the nature of the soldiers' injuries.
India and China sought Wednesday to de-escalate tensions after flexing their muscles in a fatal clash along a disputed border high in the Himalayas that left 20 Indian soldiers dead. China also suffered casualties, the Indian army said, though neither side has released any figures.
Alyssa Ayres, a senior fellow for India, Pakistan and South Asia, said the "timing is just terrible" due to the deadly outbreak and border problems with three countries, China, Pakistan and Nepal.
The NDTV and Network 18 television channels reported that 16 of the Indian soldiers were killed with blunt objects and four fell into the river.
The killings were sparked when a patrol of Indian soldiers unexpectedly encountered Chinese troops in a steep section of the mountainous region they believed the People's Liberation Army had retreated from, in line with a 6 June disengagement agreement, sources in Delhi said.
Military experts say one reason for the face-off is that India has been building roads and airfields to improve connectivity and narrow the gap with China's infrastructure.
Both sides had agreed to disarm as they confronted each other in the mountainous region in order to determine how they would both withdraw their military from the area. Yesterday, sources had claimed that the Chinese side suffered 43 casualties in the clash.
India says it is operating on its side of the LAC.
Associate Professor Yuan said the leaders of both countries would be forced to balance the need to appear strong and not be seen to concede claims to the territory, but also manage the "serious risk" if they allow nationalist sentiment to drive policy.
The two countries, which went to war in 1962, have disputes along several areas of their undemarcated border, which has remained largely peaceful for the last 45 years.
Both Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping have built public support in large part on nationalism and a promise of future greatness.
China claims about 90,000 square kilometers (35,000 square miles) in the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, referred to informally by some Chinese as "Southern Tibet".
Days later, on May 9, dozens of Chinese and Indian soldiers were injured in fistfights and stone-throwing when another fight erupted at Nathu La Pass in the Indian state of Sikkim, almost 1,200 kilometers to the east along the LAC.
A few months back, the intrusion of Chinese soldiers into the Indian territory had also hogged the headlines.