Amid escalating tension over Doklam Standoff, Chinese troops conduct military drill

Amid continuing tension between India and China, with both countries’ armed forces facing standoff along the International Border at Doklam, near the Sikkim-Tibet-Bhutan trijunction, China’s People’s Liberation Army’s Western Theatre Command, Tibet, Xinjiang, Ningxia, Qinghai, Sichuan and Chongqing, has recently conducted exercises involving armed forces and the country’s aviation unit.

As reported by the Global Times, “A five-minute-long video was played on Chinese China Central Television of PLA troops conducting drills showed tanks firing at targets on hills, followed by helicopters firing missiles at ground targets. More than 10 PLA units, including aviation units and armoured forces, participated in the drills.”

While the exact location of the drill was not revealed, the Chinese state media reported, “Such Chinese PLA military exercises are meant to strike awe in India as the two sides have been engaged in a standoff in Doklam for more than two months, and the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, which is closest to India, is where the Western Theater Command is most prominent.”

Days back, a flag meeting between the Indian Army and China’s People’s Liberation Army officials over the ongoing stand-off remained inconclusive. The diplomatic meeting was held in Nathu-La and was attended by top Indian Army officials and a Major General rank officer while usually flag meetings are attended by Brigadier level officials. Sources have further hinted towards the possibility of another flag meeting to be held soon.

While the Indian Army denied commenting on any development at the border, the army was reportedly on high alert along the eastern border on Friday. The standoff between the two countries’ armed forces started on June 16 following the intrusion of a construction party of the PLA at Doklam to construct road at the area.

Earlier this month, Indian Army has reportedly evacuated a nearby village in the area. According to a report by News18, villagers from Nathang, located 35 kms from the site of the standoff, had been directed by the Indian Army to immediately evacuate. However, it was unknown whether the reason for the evacuation is to accommodate the Army or to avoid civilian deaths during in case of a conflict. Reportedly there have been heavy movement of troops in the area in the recent times. Indian Express reported the movement of thousands of Indian Army soldiers of the 33 Corps looking after the China-Sikkim border. Reported the Army schedule for the 33 Corps’ Operational Alert has been advanced. China’s People’s Liberation Army has also been spotted with 80 tents at a distance of one kilometre from the vicinity of the stand-off site.

By Priyam Mukhopaadhyay

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