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18 Jul 2017

China holds military drill near Arunachal border, ‘enemy’ aircraft the target

China’s latest military drill in Tibet is being seen as a message to India, as the standoff between the border guards of the two countries in Doklam continues even after a month.
China’s latest military drill in Tibet is being seen as a message to India, as the standoff between the border guards of the two countries in Doklam continues even after a month.(Global Times/Chinese media)
Sutirtho Patranobis , HT, 17 July 2017, Beijing: China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has held “live-fire drills” in Tibet, close to the India’s border in Arunachal, to practice quick movement of troops and destroy enemy aircraft, the state media has said.

The reports didn’t say when and why the 11-hour military exercise was held, the latest in a series of the war games the Chinese have talked about following the month-old standoff between the two countries in Doklam region that borders India’s northeast frontier in Sikkim.

“The brigade that conducted the (latest) drills was from the PLA’s Tibet military command and is one of China’s two plateau mountain brigades,” China Central Television (CCTV), the national broadcaster, said.

The report is being seen as a message to the Indian government and military, as China claims large parts of Arunachal, India’s easternmost state, as southern Tibet.

The drill was held in the Tibet Autonomous Region in the middle and lower reaches of Yarlung Zangbo river, which “is located in the upper stream of the Brahmaputra river which flows through China, India and Bangladesh”.

The Yarlung Zangbo enters India through Arunachal where it is called Siang before it becomes the Brahmaputra in Assam. China has been building dams over it, causing concern in India that it could affect the flow of the Brahmaputra.

The mountain brigade had long been stationed around the middle and lower reaches of the Yarlung Zangbo and was responsible for frontline combat, the nationalistic Global Times quoted the CCTV report as saying.

It said quick delivery of troops and different military units coming together for joint attacks was practised, which also involved use of anti-tank grenades and missiles.

“The video also shows radar units identifying enemy aircraft and soldiers using anti-aircraft artillery to annihilate targets,” the English language tabloid said.

It wasn’t clear if the drill was part of a military exercise carried out earlier this month at 15,000 feet in the Tibet plateau, the first time the PLA had gone so high.

During the exercise, the Chinese soldiers tested new equipment including tanks, the official Xinhua news agency had said.

Earlier, the Chinese military had announced it tested a light-weight battle tank in Tibet near the Indian border.

“The 35-tonne tank has carried out trials in the plains of Tibet,” PLA spokesman Col Wu Qian had said in a media briefing.

“The purpose is to test the parameters of the equipment and is not targeted against any country,” the PLA spokesman had said to a query if the tank was targeted at India.

In the last few days, China has rebuffed India’s conciliatory tone on resolving the impasse in Doklam, which is located at the narrow but strategically important tri-junction of India, China and Bhutan.

China has accused Indian soldiers of trespass and preventing it from building a road in the region, which is claimed by Bhutan.

Beijing wants India to withdraw its troops from Doklam before the two sides can open talks. New Delhi says the road, if built, will have serious security implications for India.

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