August 21, 2017
A state-run newspaper in China reported that the Chinese PLA recently conducted military drills aimed at striking awe in India and laying the ground for plateau warfare as the two countries remain engaged in a two-month-long standoff in Doklam.
Written by Dev Goswami
The Chinese People’s Liberation Army last week conducted live-fire drills that saw the use of tanks and helicopters, according the state-run daily Global Times.
The English-language hawkish daily referred to a China Central Television (CCTV) report to say that “10 PLA units, including aviation units and armored [sic] forces, participated in the drills” that took place against the backdrop of the ongoing standoff between Indian and Chinese soldiers on the Doklam plateau.
The drills were reportedly conducted by the PLA’s Western Theater Command, which is responsible for regions bordering India but Global Times did not say where the exercises were carried out.
The Global Times tries to underline the supposed importance of the live-fire drills by quoting CCTV as saying that the military exercise was aimed at the laying “the ground for plateau warfare.” The daily further reports that CCTV aired a five-minute video showing “tanks firing at targets on hills, followed by helicopters firing missiles at ground targets.”
Taking aim at New Delhi, the Global Times then refers to another newspaper report to quote analysts as saying that the drills were meant to “strike awe in India.”
However, surprisingly, the Global Times quoted ‘Lianhe Zaobao’, which is actually a Singapore-based Chinese-language daily, and not any mainstream Chinese.
The latest Global Times report is similar to another from July when the English daily had referred, again, to a CCTV report to say that the Chinese PLA had conducted live-fire exercises in the Tibet region.
DOKLAM: TWO MONTHS AND COUNTING
The report, from a newspaper that has been particularly critical of New Delhi and its stand on Doklam, comes as the high-stakes standoff entered its third month.
Soldiers from the Indian Army and the Chinese PLA have been caught in the standoff ever since Indian troops intervened to stop the Chinese from constructing a metal-top road on the Doklam plateau, a region contested between China and Bhutan but which Beijing says it has complete sovereignty over.
The face-off has been marked by angry reactions from Beijing, which has demanded that New Delhi unconditionally withdraw its troops. India, on the other hand, has said that it prefers a mutual withdrawal of soldiers from the area.
While Chinese state media has kept publishing a barrage of rhetoric-laden articles and commentaries on the Doklam standoff, tensions between the two nuclear-armed neighbours have not really escalated. This despite a recent confrontation near Ladakh’s Pangang Lake that saw Indian and Chinese soldiers engage in unusual violence.
The Independence Day incident was discussed by local army commanders of the two countries and New Delhi, while confirming that an “incident” had occurred, sought to downplay the episode, refusing the reveal details of what had happened. A viral, unverified video of the clash, however, showed soldiers punching, kicking and even pelting stones at one another.