China carries out military drill in Tibet

China’s armed forces recently took part in a “record-breaking” high-altitude drill in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) focusing on combat training, the Chinese defence ministry said on Thursday.

Organised by the Tibet Military Region, the training simulated battle situations that required integrated operations or joint training between different units of the troops deployed in the region.

The ministry added that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has carried out more than 100 tactical exercises this year in which the quantity of ammunition had significantly increased.

The Tibet Military Region is part of PLA’s Western Theatre Command (WTC), China’s largest command, which oversees the long and disputed border with India.

The ministry did not say where in the TAR, which borders India, Nepal and Bhutan, the large-scale training took place but said the intensive training was held in altitudes over 3,700m.

The drill took place in the backdrop of the ongoing military friction between India and China at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh.

Answering a question, the defence ministry spokesperson Colonel Ren Guoqiang said the exercise “Peak of the Snowy Region 2021” was a record-breaking mass training event for the PLA.

The drills focused on three aspects: Actual combat training, training with science and technology and training soldiers according to the traits required to fight on high-altitude plateau.

The activities were carried out on 23 subjects related to high-altitude battles, which included comprehensive operations by combat and sniper teams, field repair and rescue.

The drills were carried out under unfamiliar geographical conditions around the clock, the spokesperson said.

Earlier this year, the Tibet Military Region held a rare multi-dimensional exercise amid the ongoing New Delhi-Beijing dispute.

The exercise involved ground assault forces as well as PLA’s aviation unit, which deployed attack helicopters, China’s official military media reported.

The report published in the PLA Daily said a multi-dimensional exercise was being held to improve combat capabilities. “A composite brigade of the Tibet military region joined hands with the Army Aviation Force to launch a three-dimensional assault, starting a normalised joint exercise and training.”

Spokesperson Ren said China has been focusing on combat-level drills through 2021.

Answering a related question on PLA’s training this year, Ren said the armed forces had taken part in at least 100 tactical joint training exercises and that the use of ammunition had “significantly” increased.

Ren added that all the theatre commands launched real-world mission exercises, continued to focus on the periodic rotation of combat readiness missions for trial troop training and deepened cross-domain and cross-service arms joint special training.

President Xi Jinping, in 2021’s first order issued in January to the PLA, had focused on the need for “full-time combat readiness” and said the armed forces must use frontline conflicts to polish troop capabilities.

Xi said the PLA must be ready to “act at any second”.

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