India-China Doklam standoff: China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) moved tens of thousands of tonnes of military vehicles and hardware into Tibet region following the standoff with Indian troops in the Dokalam area in the Sikkim sector, according to the mouthpiece of the PLA. Vehicles and hardware were transported to a region south of the Kunlun Mountains in northern Tibet by the Western Theatre Command – which oversees the restive regions of Xinjiang and Tibet, and also handles border issues with India, PLA Daily reported.
The vehicles and hardware were moved late last month, simultaneously by road and rail from across the entire region, the report said.
According to People’s Daily Online, “live-fire exercises, which were conducted by a fully staffed and fully equipped brigade, used high-tech weaponry and multi-force attacks on the 5,000-meter-high plateau.” According to the report, Chinese experts believe Beijing has an edge over India in the region. “Though India has more troops scattered along the disputed area, China’s rapid deployment of troops, its powerful weaponry, and its advanced logistics support give China the edge over India.”
Meanwhile, China’s state-run media has stepped up its rhetoric against India in the last few weeks. However, there was no way to confirm the veracity of such claims, PTI reported. Early this week, state-run CCTV broadcast People’s Liberation Army troops taking part in heavy military exercises using live ammunition on the Tibetan plateau. The location was not very far from the disputed Dokalam area where Chinese and Indian troops are currently locked in a standoff, according to Hong-Kong based South China Morning Post.
The PLA Daily report, however, did not say whether the movement of the military equipment was to support the exercise or for other reasons. PTI reports Wang Dehua, an expert on South Asia studies at the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, as saying that the scale of the troop and equipment movement showed how easily China can defend its western borders. “Military operations are all about logistics,” he said, adding “Now there is much better logistics support to the Tibet region.”
Indian and Chinese soldiers have been locked in a face-off in the Dokalam area of the Sikkim sector for over a month after Indian troops stopped the Chinese army from building a road in the disputed area. China claimed that they were constructing the road within their territory and the country has been demanding immediate pull-out of the Indian troops from the Dokalam plateau. India has expressed concern over the road building, apprehending that it may allow Chinese troops to cut India’s access to its northeastern states.
Doka La is the Indian name for the region which Bhutan recognises as Dokalam, while China claims it as part of its Donglang region. Of the total 3,488-km-long India-China border from Jammu and Kashmir to Arunachal Pradesh, a 220-km section falls in Sikkim, according to PTI.