The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China has 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. China carried out this large-scale “manoeuvre operation” in the backdrop of the ongoing border standoff with India, CCP mouthpiece Global Times and national broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) said in their reports.
Senior commanders from India and China, meanwhile, attended the meeting at a border post. This was the highest-level meet so far. Local border commanders held a series of meetings in the past month but failed to break the impasse. On Friday, Indian and Chinese foreign ministry officials discussed the border tensions.
Media in the two countries have closely covered the escalating tensions. While the Indian Army urges the media in its country to not speculate about the talks or movements of troops, Global Times in China is turning increasingly jingoistic.
In a similar situation during the Doklam standoff in 2017, India had decided not to react to what China’s puppet media says even as it refused to budge from the forward positions in the Indian state of Sikkim. The gambit had paid off.
This time, Indian officials say the standoff began in early May when large contingents of Chinese soldiers entered deep inside Indian-controlled territory at three places in Ladakh, erecting tents and posts. They say the Chinese soldiers ignored repeated verbal warnings to leave, triggering shouting matches, stone-throwing and fistfights. India mobilised thousands of soldiers too.
Using civilian airlines, logistical transportation channels and railways, several thousand paratroopers under a PLA Air Force airborne brigade recently manoeuvred from coronavirus-affected Hubei, which is in central China, to an undisclosed location in the plateaus of north-western China thousands of miles away, CCTV reported on 6 June.
“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.
Last week, another report in the Global Times had said that 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”.