PLA exercises in Tibet: Is China preparing for war?
China's state-run China Central Television (CCTV) reported that the People's Liberation Army conducted a military drill near the Arunachal border, focusing on quick troop movement and targeting enemy aircraft. This is latest in the series of exercises that China has conducted during the Sikkim stand-off and has been viewed as a message to India with respect to Chinese claims in Arunachal Pradesh.
What context is this happening in?
Indian and Chinese troops have been engaged in month-long tense stand-off in the Doklam region located in the Sikkim-Bhutan-Tibet tri-junction, with both sides accusing each other of transgressing into each others' territory. China has been insisting that withdrawal of Indian troops is a pre-condition for negotiations. Chinese media has also taken a sharp tone with India, asking India to remember 1962 among other things.
Where was the drill conducted?
The exercises were conducted in the middle and lower reaches of the Yarlung Zangbo river, which is known as Brahmaputra in India. The PLA mountain brigade stationed in this region and PLA's Tibet Military Command participated in frontline combat exercises.
What did the drills focus on?
The drills were primarily aimed at assessing the participating troops joint strike capability in plateaus. They focused on aspects including fast delivery and co-ordination among units during joint attacks. Anti-tank grenades and missiles were also involved as part of these drills. The drills further tested out China's new light-weight tanks and anti-aircraft artillery which were used to destroy targets identified by the radar units.
What is everyone thinking?
PLA has been sharpening its skills and testing out new equipment including its new light-weight tank which recently completed trials in Tibet, suitable for deployment in plateaus. Qin Zhen, executive editor, Ordnance Knowledge magazine, said the recent exercises have further focused on developing PLA plateau units combat capabilities. Is this part of routine military activity or is China preparing for a war against India?