June 8, 2009 / 8:22 AM / 10 years ago

India to increase troops along China border

GUWAHATI, India, June 8 (Reuters) - India will deploy thousands of additional troops and build airstrips along its remote northeastern border with China, in a sign of persisting wariness between the two countries despite growing business ties.

India and China fought a brief war over their 3,500 km (2,200 mile) Himalayan border in 1962, and both sides claim the other is occupying big but largely uninhabited chunks of their territory.

Although India and China have signed a treaty to maintain “peace and tranquility” along the disputed frontier and agreed to find a political solution to the row, talks have made little progress.

Last year, the army said Chinese soldiers had crossed the border in Arunachal Pradesh state illegally and entered their territory, urging the government to deploy more troops.

“Two army divisions comprising 25,000 to 30,000 soldiers each will be deployed along the border in Arunachal,” said J.J. Singh, the governor of the remote state.

“It (deployment) was part of the planned augmentation of our capabilities to defend the country ... The increase in force strength is to meet the future national security challenge,” Singh said in Itanagar, capital of Arunachal Pradesh.

Other than troops, India will add more firepower in the disputed zone with light 155mm guns, helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles to strengthen its defences, officials said. They will also build airstrips close to the border.

The state shares a disputed border with China more than 1,000 km (621 miles) long.

Last month, India’s air force chief said the country faces a greater threat from China than Pakistan because New Delhi knows little about Beijing’s combat capabilities. (Editing by Bappa Majumdar and Jerry Norton)

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