(TibetanReview.net, Jun08’20) – Even as talks have been held and are set to continue, with both the sides having reportedly agreed to resolve the currently simmering Ladakh border dispute peacefully, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) was reported to have carried out a large-scale drill involving thousands of paratroopers to check its preparedness in transporting soldiers and armoured vehicles from a central Chinese province to border areas to the northwest of the country.
The large scale “maneuver operation” was done in the backdrop of the ongoing border standoff with India, said China’s nationalistic tabloid Global Times and national broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV). The reports said the maneuver was completed in a few hours, apparently making a point of putting India on notice of China’s capability.
These Chinese reports came after New Delhi said that India and China will continue military and diplomatic engagements to resolve a weeks-old standoff along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). They also came out on a day when New Delhi said India and China will continue military and diplomatic engagements to resolve a weeks-old standoff along the LAC.
Using civilian airlines, logistical transportation channels and railways, several thousand paratroopers under a PLA Air Force airborne brigade recently maneuvered from Hubei, which is in central China, to an undisclosed location in the plateaus of northwestern China thousands of kilometres away, reported CCTV Jun 6.
Hubei is the province of which Wuhan, well-known for being the original epicenter of the Covid-19 global pandemic, is the capital.
“Several hundred pieces of military equipment including armoured vehicles and huge batches of supplies were also involved in the operation, which ended successfully in just a few hours,” the report said.
“This maneuver mission saw significant breakthroughs not only in the scale of mobilised troops but also means of transportation. [Using civilian transportation] substantially expanded our means of transporting forces and increased efficiency in maneuvering an entire organisation of troops,” Major Colonel Mao Lei, head of the training department at the airborne brigade, was shown saying on CCTV.
While it was not clear when exactly the latest large-scale military drill took place, the Global Times report Chinese military media outlet China Military as saying, “Groups of tanks and armored vehicles attached to the 76th Group Army under the PLA Western Theater Command also conducted a long-distance maneuver on May 14.”
This was not all. Last week, another report in the Global Times said the PLA’s Tibet Military Command recently “…sent troops to a high-altitude region at an elevation of 4,700 meters at night for infiltration exercises behind enemy lines and tested their combat capability under a harsh environment”.
During the Lieutenant General-level talks between the two sides in the Chushul-Moldo region on Jun 6, China was reported to have signaled a willingness to de-escalate matters, agreeing to hold further conversations among local commanders to find a way to ease tensions. The two sides were also stated to have reached a consensus that ‘differences should not become disputes’.
But India remained cautious as reports came in on Jun 7 that China had beefed up its military presence in the area, reported economictimes.com Jun 8.
Indeed, China’s globaltimes.com reported Jun 8 that while talks were held between the two sides to prevent another ‘Doklam’, the standoff was set to continue due to the complexity of the situation before resolution.