May 20, 2024

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Beijing said New Delhi’s move to free up 10,000 more soldiers to station on their disputed frontier won’t reduce tensions but added that it is willing to work with its rival to keep the peace.

“India enhancing military deployments in the India-China border areas does not help ease the situation in the border areas or in safeguarding tranquility and safety,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said at a regular press briefing in Beijing on Friday.

But she added that “China is committed to working with India to safeguard the tranquility and stability of the border areas.”

A unit of Indian soldiers previously assigned to the country’s western border has been set aside to protect a stretch of its frontier with China, Bloomberg News reported Thursday, citing senior Indian officials who didn’t want to be named because discussions are private.

In addition, an existing contingent of 9,000 troops already designated to the Chinese border will be brought under the new fighting command. The combined force will guard a roughly 530 km (330 mile) stretch of border that separates China’s Tibet region with India’s northern states of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh.

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

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

China’s Defense Ministry didn’t respond to a faxed request for comment on Friday.

Read More: The China-India Border Dispute Bedeviling Ties: QuickTake

In 2021, India repositioned an extra 50,000 soldiers to patrol the border after a deadly clash the year before left at least 20 Indian soldiers dead and seriously strained ties.

Beijing and New Delhi have since upgraded military-related infrastructure, moved missiles and aircraft to either side of their border and placid more troops in the area.

Ties between India and China sank after the confrontation and haven’t substantially improved. As many as 21 rounds of military-diplomatic talks have made incremental progress.

–With assistance from Yujing Liu.

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