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HomeFrontlinesAsia-PacificAs PLA prepares for military exercise in South Xinjiang, India watches closely

As PLA prepares for military exercise in South Xinjiang, India watches closely

While India battles China’s dreadful gift to the world, the Covid-19 pandemic, the Chinese PLA is gearing up for its annual summer exercise in the Xinjiang region. 

India is reported to be keeping a close eye on the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) as they prepare for their annual joint military exercises in the north of Aksai Chin; including strategic locations like Kashgar and Kanxiwar. 

It was this exercise last year that resulted in massive troop movement along the LAC or Line of Actual Control and the subsequent Indo-China standoff. Therefore, the Indian Army is keeping its ‘reserve troops’ are ready in case of any Chinese misadventures, reported TOI.

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“The PLA has completed rotating its troops in eastern Ladakh, including two motorised divisions,” stated a senior Indian officer on Tuesday to The Times of India. The statement further added, that It has also begun its annual summer exercises in-depth areas such as Kanxiwar and Kashgar, which are between 100 and 250 kilometres from the Line of Actual Control,”. With the onset of summer, the and have also strengthened their “military posture” during the “campaigning season” in eastern Ladakh, as also other stretches along the 3,488-km LAC right till Arunachal Pradesh. “This is to ensure a `military surge’ is possible if the balloon goes up,” he also added.

Since the Aksai Chin-Ladakh standoff last year, the Chinese military establishment has been hyperactive in its continued efforts to better its position. While on one hand, the PLA is frantically inducting newer weapon systems, most notably artillery pieces like the PHL-03 Multiple Rocket Launcher, PCL-161 Truck-Mounted (122 mm) Howitzer and PCL-181 Truck-Mounted (155 mm) Howitzer. On the other hand, the Chinese side is rapidly upgrading its border infrastructures like a continued effort to turn troop shelters, ammunition depots, helipads, and surface-to-air missile positions built last year into permanent positions. 

It has been stated by various defence analysts that this exercise holds unequalled strategic as well as tactical importance for India as last year the Chinese Central Military Commission or CMC, China’s apex politico-military decision-making body headed by President Xi Jinping, used this exercise as a veil to execute the meticulously planned Chinese transgressions into India in 2020. 

It is to be noted that though both the Indian as well as the Chinese local commanders are keeping in constant contact over hotlines, the overall stalemate remains. The PLA has flatly declined to withdraw troops from the eastern Ladakh friction sites at patrolling points (PPs) 15, 17, and 17A in the Hot Springs-Gogra-Kongka La region, and maintains a considerable presence in the rear areas to the standoff. The PLA’s continued denial of Indian patrols access to their traditional PPs-10, 11, 11A, 12, and 13 in the strategically located Depsang Bulge sector, which fall far short of India’s perception of the LAC in the region, remains a major issue. 

Though the Indian side has also ramped up military hardware purchases like ideaForge’s high-altitude SWITCH tactical UAV and border infrastructure since last year despite the geographically challenging terrain of Karakorum-Ladakh-Zanskar mountain ranges; the Indian armed forces would have to be on their toes to preempt and counter any Chinese contretemps on Indian soil.

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