Beijing: The Chinese Army has carried out a military exercise on the Tibet plateau, deploying tanks and conducting live firing at a height of 5,100 metres for the first time, amid a standoff with Indian forces near Nathu La in the Sikkim sector.
The drill, which also involved the testing of new equipment, was conducted to evaluate the battle-readiness of People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops at altitudes of 15,000 feet and above, official Xinhua news agency reported.
The exercise assessed “battlefield environment analysis, combat operations, synergies that need to be developed during battle”, and also featured live fire shooting training and the testing of integration of military operations, the report in Chinese said.
The report added that the hierarchy of the PLA, the world’s largest armed forces, wanted to test how the personnel and equipment fared in freezing altitudes and “complex weather patterns”. Complex battle situations were simulated and troops were made to react to changing on-ground situations rapidly.
Last week, the Chinese military said it had conducted trials of a lightweight 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.
Asked whether the test targeted India, Wu said, “The purpose is to test the parameters of the equipment and is not targeted against any country.”
However, a report on the Guancha website said the tanks — called Xinqingtan in Chinese — were rolled out in an area of Tibet near the Indian border, and that Beijing was increasing its military buildup in the region as “a show of force designed to deter the Indian military”.
The new tank’s technology and firepower, the report said, were “more advanced than the Russia-made T-90s deployed by India”.