China bolstering military presence in Tibet

PLA in Tibet.  Image: EPA

DHARAMSALA, Feb 15: China is reported to be strengthening its military presence in the occupied Tibet which include upgrading a military camp in its western command and preparing the construction of several new airports in the region.

“Even after the Doklam standoff between India and China, the latter is surreptitiously strengthening its military presence in Tibet,” reports Swarajya, an Indian monthly print magazine and online daily.

China plans to build three new airports in Purang, Lhunze and Tingri as part of the ‘3+1 project’ at a cost of around $2.6 billion by 2021 while they have reportedly started work on upgrading on fourth, a civil airport in Gongga, Tibet, which is situated quite close to the border with India, the report noted.

Apart from setting up a number of new military bases near the border region, the report alleged that China may also have a secret guided missile unit, ‘622 Missile Brigade’, located just 900 km from Arunachal Pradesh, in Yuxi, Yunnan.

“The PLA is adding long-range kill missiles at this new site. The Chinese missile arsenal has weaponry with the range going from 250 km up to thousands of kilometres,” the report stated.

It is understood that the Chinese military has previously used patrolling boats as part of its surveillance mission at Pangong Tso (Lake) in Ladakh.

A special water squadron named ‘Zhong Dui’ is also stationed at the lake and is equipped with high tech navigational and communication capabilities, the report declared.

Meanwhile, China is building an underground facility (UGF) for its troops stationed in occupied Tibet near Ngari in the traditional Tibetan province of U-Tsang.

The People’s Liberation Army(PLA) has constructed an underground facility (UGF) barely 50 km from the India-China border, and just 60 km from the Indian forward posts at Demchok in Ladakh, The Print reported last month.

Additionally, China is reported to have equipped its border troops with a new lightweight tank, the Type-15, which has better mobility than other tanks used by the PLA to strengthen combat readiness in plateau regions such as Tibet at the tail end of last year while PLA stationed in Tibet were equipped with new vehicle-mounted howitzers to boost their high-altitude combat capability earlier in Jan this year as well.

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