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Amid Standoff, China’s PLA Moves Huge Military Hardware to Tibet

China and India have been engaged in a standoff since Indian troops stopped road construction by Chinese soldiers.

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The Chinese Army moved tens of thousands of tonnes of military vehicles and hardware into the remote mountainous Tibet region after the standoff with Indian troops in Doklam area in the Sikkim sector, the mouthpiece of the People’s Liberation Army said.

The vast haul was transported to a region south of the Kunlun Mountains in northern Tibet by the Western Theatre Command – which oversees the restive regions of Xinjiang and Tibet, and handles border issues with India, reported the PLA Daily, the official mouthpiece of the Chinese military.

The move took place late last month and involved hardware being moved simultaneously by road and rail from across the entire region, the report said.

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China's state-run media has stepped up its rhetoric against India in recent weeks but there was no way to confirm the veracity of such claims.

PLA's Live-Fire Drills in Tibet

Early this week, Chinese state-run CCTV had broadcast PLA troops taking part in heavy military exercises using live ammunition on the Tibetan plateau.

The location was not far from the disputed Doklam area where Chinese and Indian troops are locked in a standoff.

The brigade that conducted the drills was from the PLA's Tibet Military Command and is one of China's two plateau mountain brigades, Global Times reported on Monday.

According to the CCTV report, the brigade has long been stationed around the middle and lower reaches of the Brahmaputra (Yarlung Zangbo in Chinese) river which flows into India and Bangladesh and is responsible for frontline combat missions.

The live-fire drills included the quick delivery of troops and different military units working together on joint attacks. Video posted online showed soldiers using anti-tank grenades and missiles against bunkers and howitzers for artillery coverage.

The video also showed radar units identifying enemy aircraft and soldiers using anti-aircraft artillery to destroy targets. The drills lasted 11 hours.

The PLA Daily report, however, did not say whether the movement of the military equipment was to support the exercise or for other reasons.

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Separately, Tibet's mobile communication agency conducted a drill on 10 July in Lhasa – capital of Tibet – where members of the agency practiced setting up of a temporary mobile network to secure communications in an emergency.

Earlier reports said the PLA units exercised with several modern weapon systems, including a new light battle tank being manufactured by China.

China and India have been engaged in a standoff in the Doklam area in the Sikkim sector, where Indian troops stopped road construction by Chinese soldiers on 16 June.

China has been demanding immediate pull-out of the Indian troops from the disputed Doklam plateau.

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Doka La is the Indian name for the region which Bhutan recognises as Doklam, while China claims it as part of its Donglang region.

Of the 3,488-km-long India-China border from Jammu and Kashmir to Arunachal Pradesh, a 220-km section falls in Sikkim.

Wang Dehua, an expert on South Asia studies at the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, said the scale of the troop and equipment movement showed how much easier it is for China to defend its western borders.

(With inputs from PTI.)

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