I. The Big Story: PLA and Tibet
The PLA has begun its major military exercises in the high-altitude Tibetan plateau bordering India. The Type 15 light battle tanks and the new type 155-MM howitzers are used for the exercises, a report claims. Another report claims that the Tibet military command has deployed helicopters, armoured vehicles, heavy artillery, and anti-aircraft missiles across the region from Lhasa, capital of Tibet, with an elevation of 3,700 meters to border defence frontlines with elevations of more than 4,000 meters. For China, this is the first major exercise after Xi Jinping signed the CMC orders to prioritise PLA and PAP training in the first week of 2020.
Both, the Type 15 tanks and the Type 155-MM howitzers were displayed for the first time at China’s National Military Parade on October 1, 2019. The Type 15 is the world’s only modern lightweight tank in service and is equipped with a 105-millimetre gun and advanced sensors that can “devastate enemy light armoured vehicles in regions not suitable for heavy main battle tank deployment.” Both the weapons are ideal for the Tibetan conditions as heavier hostile weapons cannot reach the oxygen-depleted border areas.
The Line of Actual Control between India and China is 3,488 km, which runs so far as Arunachal and Sikkim. China has claimed that Arunachal Pradesh is part of South Tibet.