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India Frees Up 10,000 More Soldiers to Guard Border With China

India has freed up thousands of soldiers to strengthen its disputed border with China, adding a potential irritant to its already sour relations with Beijing.

Indian soldiers on the India-China border.
Indian soldiers on the India-China border.

India has freed up thousands of soldiers to strengthen its disputed border with China, adding a potential irritant to its already sour relations with Beijing.

A 10,000-strong unit of soldiers previously assigned to the country’s western border has now been set aside to guard a stretch of its frontier with China, said senior Indian officials who didn’t want to be named because discussions are private.

In addition, an existing contingent of 9,000 soldiers, already designated to the disputed Chinese border, will be brought under the newly created fighting command. The combined force will guard a 532 km (330.57 miles) stretch of border that separates China’s Tibet region with India’s northern states of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh.

The Indian Army and Ministry of Defense declined to comment. 

The unprecedented assignment of troops — backed by their own dedicated artillery and air support — to this stretch of the border highlights both the region’s strategic importance and its growing sensitivity in the eyes of India’s leaders. 

The area, nestled in the Himalayas, is home to some of Hinduism’s holiest shrines. It has seen huge infrastructure investment and development in the last decade as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has encouraged tourism to the area. 

India Frees Up 10,000 More Soldiers to Guard Border With China

In 2021, India repositioned an additional 50,000 soldiers to patrol its border with China, after a deadly border clash the year before left at least 20 Indian soldiers dead, seriously straining ties. 

China and India have since upgraded military-related infrastructure and moved missiles and aircraft to either side of their border, in addition to positioning more troops. 

“The possibility that we may face a similar situation that we faced in 2020 is keeping us active all the time,” said India’s Defense Secretary Giridhar Aramane, at a business event last month, referring to the border clash between the nuclear armed neighbors. 

Ties between India and China sunk in the aftermath of that confrontation and haven’t substantially improved since then. As many as 21 rounds of talks military-diplomatic have made incremental progress. India has since passed laws to discourage Chinese investments and enterprise in India.

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