China deployed combat vehicles in Tibet plateau, reports state media
Combat aircraft, artillery, armoured vehicles and special forces from across China were deployed to the Tibetan plateau amid fresh tensions with India, state media reported on Wednesday in a rare acknowledgment of the massive mobilisation along the disputed border.
China’s official media usually highlights exercises in Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) to reflect the country’s military might along the border with India, as it did in August, and repeatedly during the 2017 Doklam standoff.
The more blatant show of military power – including sorties by fighter jets close to the border – is reserved for Taiwan, which Beijing describes as a renegade region to be unified by force if necessary. The words deployment and mobilisation are seldom used in state media reports in the context of the border with India.
The news reports didn’t specify since when the troops and equipment were mobilised from different parts of China to the plateau. They attributed the movement of units to “renewed border tensions between China and India” over the past two weeks.
The reports said troops, artillery and aircraft were moved to the plateau not only from different parts of China but from different theatre commands. The border with India is under the Western Theatre Command of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), the largest of five commands covering the mainland.
Several troop formations in northwestern desert areas in Xinjiang and southwestern TAR were engaged in live-fire drills and complex manoeuvres.
The nationalistic Global Times tabloid reported “bombers, air defence troops, artillery, armoured vehicles, paratroopers, special forces and infantry units” from across the country were mobilised to the border areas.
H-6 bombers and Y-20 large transport aircraft from the PLA Central Theater Command Air Force were deployed to the plateau for training missions, the reports cited the command as saying on Tuesday, a day after the latest face-off on the south bank of Pangong Lake.
National broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) reported HJ-10 anti-tank missile systems attached to the PLA 71st Group Army were recently moved from eastern Jiangsu province to the northwestern Gobi desert, more than 1,600 km away.
For PLA, it would be easier to dispatch troops and equipment to the northwest from the Gobi desert region.
An air defence brigade under the PLA 72nd Group Army also mobilised to the northwest region in autumn and held live-fire confrontational drills with anti-aircraft guns and missiles, CCTV reported on Friday.
CCTV also reported paratroopers and heavy equipment on board PLA Air Force’s transport aircraft recently conducted a “multidimensional area capture and control exercise” in the deserts of northwest China. The state media reports also said troops had been engaged in “long-distance manoeuvres, deployment exercises and live-fire drills” in desert areas and TAR over the past few weeks.
Chinese military experts HT reached out to didn’t comment on the matter.
India has consistently rejected China’s claims that Indian troops crossed the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh, and asserted that it has always taken a responsible approach towards border management and maintaining peace and tranquillity in border areas.
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