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China begins deploying local Tibetan militia along border with India

(TibetanReview.net, Jun22’21) – China is reported to have deployed the first set of troops of a newly raised Tibetan unit, Special Tibetan Army Unit (STAU), in the strategically important Chumbi Valley between Sikkim and Bhutan. Known as Mimang Cheton (MC), the unit consists of local Tibetan youths recruited and trained by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA), reported newindianexpress.com Jun 22.

The unit’s name suggests that it is a people’s militia and the report noted that currently its personnel had neither uniform nor ranks.

The report said two batches of MC, each comprising about 100 youths, had been recruited, with the first 100 having completed their training and currently deployed at various locations in Yatung County’s Chumbi Valley viz Yutung, Cheema, Rinchengang, PB Thang and Phari. It said the second batch was undergoing training at Phari, located just across Tibet’s border with Bhutan.

The report said the PLA raised the STAU keeping the locals’ adaptability, knowledge of the language and awareness of weather conditions and general terrain, with altitude ranging between 11,000 ft towards Arunachal Pradesh and nearly 18,000 ft close to Karakoram in Ladakh. 

“It wants to exploit the locals’ familiarity with the area to its advantage by deploying these troops mostly in the bordering areas,” the report quoted a source as saying.

To lend a local flavor to the recruitment and deployment process, those who complete their training were reportedly being taken to Tibetan monks for their blessings before their deployment.

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