China earlier this month had deployed martial art trainers and members of a mountain club in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), which borders India, state media reports said Sunday.
No specific reason was given in the state media reports about the new deployment but it was done during the ongoing border tension with India, which began in early May, and escalated into a deadly brawl earlier this month.
Incidentally, bilateral agreements between India and China prevent the use of guns along the line of actual control (LAC).
On the night of June 15 – the day the new troops presented themselves in Lhasa, the capital of TAR – at least 20 Indian army soldiers were killed in a clash with PLA troops in eastern Ladakh’s Galwan Valley.
China has admitted that PLA suffered casualties but is yet to reveal the numbers.
No guns were used in the clash but soldiers from both sides fought hand-to-hand with rocks, batons and clubs.
Among the newly deployed personnel and five new militia divisions are former members of a Mount Everest Olympic torch relay team and fighters from a mixed martial arts club.
Interestingly, a leading Chinese military had recently praised the Indian mountain army as the best in the world.
“Mountaineering is an essential skill for almost every member of the Indian mountain army. To this end, India even recruited a large number of professional mountaineers and amateur mountaineers from the private sector,” wrote Huang Guozhi, senior editor of Modern Weaponry magazine in an article this month.
The new troop deployment was reported by national broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) and the PLA’s official military newspaper China National Defence News.
Tibet commander Wang Haijiang said the Enbo Fight Club recruits would “greatly raise the organisation and mobilisation strength” of troops and their “rapid response and support ability,” the newspaper reported.
The new troops were recruited with the aim of “strengthening the border and stabilising Tibet,” the Chinese newspaper reported.
Wang had visited India in 2018 for the Sino-India “Hand-in-Hand” counter-terrorism exercise in Pune.
In his comments, Wang did not confirm the new deployment was linked to the ongoing border tensions.
Chinese state media have in recent weeks highlighted PLA’s drills held in TAR.
An infantry battalion, for example, had carried out extensive drills with tanks and armed airborne personnel at heights over 15000 feet in TAR, the PLA had reported earlier in June.
The rare announcement by PLA did not specify when the drill was held but said it was the armed forces’ Xizang (Tibet) Military Command that organised the exercise at heights over 4700 metres.
The Xizang Military Command falls under the Chengdu Military region.
New Delhi has rejected Beijing’s accusations that it was the Indian army, which provoked the tension and the violent clash.
Explaining the context of the standoff and the issues the two sides are trying to address, external affairs ministry spokesperson, Anurag Srivastava said in a statement: “At the heart of the matter is that since early May, the Chinese side has been amassing a large contingent of troops and armaments along the LAC. This is not in accordance with the provisions of our various bilateral agreements, especially the key 1993 Agreement on the Maintenance of Peace and Tranquility along the Line of Actual Control in the India-China Border Areas.”