According to a China Central Television (CCTV) report on Monday viewed by the South China Morning Post, the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) Tibet Military Command carried out the nighttime drills, which involved live ammunition, in central Tibet’s Tanggula Mountains.
Last month, a shootout on the disputed border between China and India left several soldiers wounded on both sides, prompting Beijing and New Delhi each to rush more forces to the region. The region in dispute sits on the border between China’s Tibet and India’s section of Jammu and Kashmir, a mountainous stretch of land that Beijing claims is part of Tibet, but fell under British control as a result of a cartography error when London ruled India as a colony.
“Regardless of whether the relationship between China and India is tense or not, it is necessary for the PLA to train troops and prepare for war,” Hong Kong-based military affairs commentator Song Zhongping told the Post.
“It is more urgent to boost combat missions in mountain plateaus, especially in all-weather combat capabilities,” he said, noting that “in light of the tension between China and India, the PLA has to strengthen military training.”
A May 31 report by the Chinese Communist Party-connected paper The Global Times noted that the 2017 standoff between India and China on the Doklam Plateau opened Beijing’s eyes to the need for more military equipment specialized for the extreme conditions of the high-altitude region. The recent drills took place at an altitude of 15,500 feet.
The paper notes that some of this new weaponry includes the ZTQ-15 “Type 15” light tank, the Z-20 multi-purpose helicopter, the PCL-181 self-propelled howitzer and the GJ-2 Wing Loong unmanned aerial vehicle.