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SOURCE: SCMP

China should stay on alert for surprise attacks along its disputed Himalayan border with India, a retired Chinese general has warned, claiming that New Delhi has at least doubled its troops in the area.

Retired Chinese lieutenant general Wang Hongguang issued the warning in an article published on Li Jian, a defence-related social media account, on Wednesday.

“India only needs 50,000 soldiers to maintain the Line of Actual Control, but now, instead of withdrawing troops before the winter comes, India has added 100,000 more soldiers in Ladakh,” Wang said, referring to the disputed China-India border.

“India has doubled or tripled its troops near the Line of Actual Control; they are mostly stationed within 50km (31 miles) of Chinese territory, and they could easily cross into China in a few hours.”

Wang is a former deputy commander of the Nanjing Military Region, now part of the Eastern Theatre Command. He did not cite a source for the troop numbers.

He said the danger of a conflict had risen and “incidents” in the Taiwan Strait and the coming US presidential election might give India an opportunity to “do something big”.

He said the Chinese military could not afford to let down their guard before mid-November.

Wang’s assessment came just days after the two countries held a sixth round of talks between military commanders.

In the meeting on Monday, the two sides agreed to implement consensus reached by the leaders, strengthen communication on the ground, avoid misunderstandings, and stop sending more troops to the front line. They also agreed to refrain from unilaterally changing the situation on the ground and avoid any action that might complicate the situation.

Tensions along the border erupted in a series of border skirmishes in the remote Himalayan area of the Galwan Valley in May and June. In mid-June, Chinese and Indian troops armed only with sticks and rocks came to blows, with at least 20 Indian soldiers dead and 76 wounded. The casualties on the Chinese side are not known.

Since August, troops have clashed at least twice more and have even accused each other of firing warning shots in the air, breaking a long-standing agreement to not use firearms within 2km of the LAC.Both sides have sent reinforcements to the area.

Indian media reported on Thursday that helicopters had been readied to support troops at forward posts throughout winter.

Hong Kong-based military commentator Song Zhongping said China had to tread carefully in relation to the additional Indian troops in the disputed region.

“India always thinks it is in an inferior position and doesn’t accept the so-called Line of Actual Control. So it’s possible that they will initiate attacks to take back the region that Indians see as belonging to them,” Song said.

Zhou Chenming, a Beijing-based military specialist, said rising nationalist sentiment in India and the big difference between the two countries over the need for troops in the area might prompt India to be more adventurous and opportunistic.

“The high nationalistic sentiment in India leaves no room for Indian troops to step back, so I think