India appoints 'China expert' as new defence chief
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India has been wary of its northern neighbour's growing troop presence along their immense frontier, and border disputes -- including deadly Himalayan clashes in 2020 -- have been a perennial source of tension.
New Delhi and Beijing have regularly accused each other of trying to seize territory at key flashpoints along their 3,500-kilometre (2,200-mile) divide, known as the Line of Actual Control.
Their troops fought a high-altitude skirmish in 2020 along the border dividing Tibet from India's state of Ladakh, killing 20 Indian and at least four Chinese soldiers, and precipitating a sharp deterioration in relations.
But both countries this month began pulling back soldiers from around the site of that incident after more than a dozen rounds of top-level military talks -- and after a two-year stand-off.
New Delhi is also concerned over Beijing's increasing presence in the Indian Ocean, seeing the region as firmly within its sphere of influence.
- Delayed succession -
Chauhan's career also included a commanding role in disputed Kashmir -- home to a long-running insurgency against Indian rule -- and cross-border strikes in 2019 against militant groups in neighbouring Myanmar.
His appointment ends months of uncertainty over who would succeed General Bipin Rawat, who was killed in a helicopter crash in December 2021.
While in office, Rawat ruffled Beijing's feathers by repeatedly questioning its actions at their disputed borders and warning Nepal about China's growing footprint.
India has been trying to modernise and streamline its 1.4 million-strong armed forces, and is also working to reduce its reliance on foreign arms, unveiling its first locally made aircraft carrier earlier this month.