Xi Jinping praises ‘model’ PLA battalion in Tibet
President Xi Jinping has paid glowing tributes to a border battalion of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) deployed in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), which shares a long and disputed boundary with India.
Responding to a letter from the battalion on the work they have done in the past five years, Xi Jinping said that the soldiers have done a great job and encouraged them to do more for the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the people.
The battalion located above 4,000m, state media reported, is under the Xizang or the Tibet Military Command, which falls under the jurisdiction of the PLA’s vast Western Theatre Command, which is responsible for the entire Sino-India disputed border.
The tribute to PLA border troops comes in the background of the ongoing Sino-India military face-off in eastern Ladakh.
The brief write-up on Xi Jinping’s letter that appeared in official Chinese media did not specify where the battalion was deployed but only said it is considered a “model” battalion.
However, in 2016, Xi Jinping in his role as chairperson of the Central Military Commission, had signed orders to give honorary titles to two military units for their outstanding services.
One was “Troop 77656”, which was then titled as a “model plateau battalion” - plateau being an indication of its deployment on the Tibetan plateau - for its “outstanding performance in safeguarding borders, ensuring stability and helping disaster relief”, according to an official statement released then.
The other unit honoured in 2016 was Navy Submarine 372 as a “model submarine” for its excellent performance in marine missions.
It is likely that Xi Jinping in his new letter praised the same “Troop 77656” battalion under the Tibet Military Command – the battalion is said to be stationed near Arunachal Pradesh, which China claims as south Tibet.
“President Xi writes back to a plateau-stationed border-guard model battalion, saying they have done a great job in the past five years and encouraging them to make new contributions to the party and the people,” the Global Times said in a report on Monday evening.
“The model battalion is under the People’s Liberation Army’s Xizang Military Command, according to previous reports,” the brief report said.
In his letter, Xi Jinping wrote that it is hoped that the soldiers will strengthen their mission, carry forward their fine traditions, strengthen their military training and preparation for war, faithfully perform their duties of defending the country, and strive to make new achievements for the party and the people.
In July, Xi Jinping visited TAR, the first time as the country’s head, beginning his three-day tour at a strategic border city near the Sino-India Arunachal Pradesh boundary.
Xi Jinping first visited Nyingchi in southeast TAR, near the McMahon Line dividing India and China, before he took an electric train on the newly inaugurated strategic railway route to Lhasa, the regional capital.
During his TAR visit, Xi Jinping had stressed on developing border areas, emphasising on the four major issues of stability, development, ecology and border-area consolidation.