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In boosting border forces, India hurts ties: analysts

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India plans to expand its China border military infrastructure network and recruit at least 6,000 personnel for its border forces in a move that will raise anxieties and undermine bilateral trust, Chinese experts said on Monday.

The Indian Ministry of Home Affairs is about to approve the formation of nine new battalions, 47 new border outposts, 12 "staging camps," enhanced troop numbers at 18 border outposts in Ladakh and the disputed South Tibet area of China as well as a strategic headquarters on the border, the Times of India reported on Sunday, citing an official note accessed by the Press Trust of India.

The budgetary allocation is the only thing left to be cleared by the ministry before becoming effective, the paper quoted an unidentified senior official as saying.

With the final decision due next month, the border force has begun recruiting as many as 6,000 personnel for the lower ranks and new battalions, the official reportedly said.

The Indian border force has about 90,000 personnel and its border posts range from a height of 9,000 feet (2,743 meters) to more than 14,000 feet (4,267 meters), according to the Times of India.

"Such a development will not affect the status quo on the border, but in the long term, India will facilitate its control over the disputed border area, using it as a bargaining chip," said Qian Feng, a researcher at the Chinese Association for South Asian Studies in Beijing.

New Delhi fears a rerun of last year's Doklam standoff, Qian told the Global Times on Monday, as well as being mindful of China's own border buildup. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in China in June, India's first attendance since joining the organization last year.

"It [the buildup] has nothing to do with the forthcoming China-India summit in June," said Zhao Gancheng, director of the Shanghai Institute for International Studies Center for Asia-Pacific Studies. "This is a routine move previously scheduled by the Indian government."

The buildup will damage Sino-Indian trust and shows that the warming ties recorded at an informal meeting between the two nations' leaders in Wuhan last month largely await fruition, Zhao noted.



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