PLA Conducts Maneuvers in High-Altitude NW China Amid Border Tensions with India
(Source: Global Times; published June 7, 2020)
A convoy of Chinese military trucks carrying tanks during a long-distance deployment exercise on May 14, 2020. These maneuvers were clearly organized to demonstrate to India the extent of China’s military capabilities in their border regions. (PLA photo)
The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) has organized a large-scale maneuver operation featuring thousands of paratroopers plus armored vehicles to the country's high-altitude northwestern region over a long distance from Central China's Hubei Province amid border tensions between China and India.

The entire process was completed in just a few hours, demonstrating China's capability of quickly reinforcing border defenses when necessary, experts said on Sunday.

Using civilian airlines, logistical transportation channels and railways, several thousand paratroopers under a PLA Air Force airborne brigade recently maneuvered from Hubei to an undisclosed location in the plateaus of northwestern China thousands of kilometers away, China Central Television (CCTV) reported on Saturday.

Hubei is the province hit hardest by the COVID-19 outbreak in China earlier this year, but it has now fully recovered and troops there are ready to conduct exercises and prepare for combat, CCTV said.

Several hundred pieces of military equipment including armored vehicles and huge batches of supplies were also involved in the operation, which ended successfully in just a few hours.

"This maneuver mission saw significant breakthroughs not only in the scale of mobilized troops but also means of transportation. [Using civilian transportation] substantially expanded our means of transporting forces and increased efficiency in maneuvering an entire organization of troops," Major Colonel Mao Lei, head of the training department at the airborne brigade, said on CCTV.

A PLA veteran with experience in maneuvering from inland to high-altitude regions of China for missions told the Global Times on condition of anonymity on Sunday that the scale and short time it took to finish the mobilization showed the PLA has the capability to project its power anywhere in China very quickly and send reinforcements to remote locations with harsh environments, including high elevation.

This applies not only to paratroopers, who tend to be highly mobile, but also ground forces and warplanes, the veteran said, noting that they can form a multidimensional force in an integrated combat system.

Groups of tanks and armored vehicles attached to the 76th Group Army under the PLA Western Theater Command also conducted a long-distance maneuver on May 14, according to Chinese military media outlet China Military.

The mobilization operation came at a time when China and India face a new wave of tensions due to high altitude border issues, as reports say both sides have reinforced their border defenses.

Senior military officers from both sides, namely China's Southern Xinjiang Military District chief and India's 14 Corps commander, on Saturday held a first round of talks, which ended with a "positive trajectory," Indian media outlet The Times of India reported on Sunday.

China's Foreign Ministry has stressed at the recent regular press briefings that the situation on the China-India border is stable and controllable, and diplomatic and military channels of communication between the two sides are unimpeded.

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