Amid the ongoing standoff between Indian and Chinese troops in the Doklam area, reports have suggested that China may have quietly moved “tens of thousands of tonnes” of military equipment, including army vehicles and troops, to Tibet while it was conducting live-fire drills in the remote mountainous region.
According to PLA Daily, the official mouthpiece of Chinese military, the haul was transported to a region south of the Kunlun Mountains in northern Tibet by the Western Theatre Command – the unit which oversees the restive regions of Xinjiang and Tibet, and handles border issues with India.
“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,” the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post said on Wednesday, quoting the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Daily.
Though the deployment happened in northern Tibet, it is a cause of concern, considering the fact that it won’t take much time for Chinese troops to move to their side of Nathu La in Sikkim.
According to Ni Lexiong, the transfer of equipment was most likely related to the standoff and could have been designed to bring India to the negotiating table. “Diplomatic talks must be backed by military preparation,” he told the South China Morning Post.
However, none of the reports have claimed that the hardware was moved to support military drills being held in Tibet, including in the middle and lower reaches of the Yarlung Zangbo river, close to Arunachal Pradesh, India’s easternmost state claimed by China as south Tibet.
Chinese and Indian soldiers have been locked in a face-off in the Dokalam area of the Sikkim sector for over a month after Indian troops stopped the Chinese army from building a road in the disputed area.
China claimed that they were constructing the road within their territory and has been demanding immediate pull-out of the Indian troops from the disputed Dokalam plateau.
New Delhi has expressed concern over the road building, apprehending that it may allow Chinese troops to cut India's access to its northeastern states.
India has conveyed to the Chinese government that the road construction would represent a significant change of status quo with serious security implications for it.
Doka La is the Indian name for the region which Bhutan recognises as Dokalam, 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.