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China’s Massive Drill in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region

Dr Roshan Writes: Over 10,000 soldiers with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Xinjiang Military Area Command participate in a defensive drill operation in a mountainous area rising over 4,000 meters above sea level in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

Dr Roshan Writes: Over 10,000 soldiers with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Xinjiang Military Area Command, participate in a defensive drill operation in a mountainous area rising over 4,000 meters above sea level in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, and the operation spread across seven hills and included missions relating to camouflage, intelligence, reconnaissance and counterattack[1].This was a major drill by the Xinjiang Military Area Command which comes under the Western Theater Command,  and which amongst other areas,  is  responsible for the defence against India, especially defending the disputed region of ‘Aksai Chin’. This drill is significant as this is the first exercise involving a massive number of soldiers in a difficult terrain, post President Xi Jinping’s reorganization of the seven military commands into five theater commands (of which the western theater command is the largest)

This depicts the determination and the focus of President Xi and also hints at the aggressive military posture which would be adopted by him in future. The signposts are all quiet visible, when in August the Chinese navy held a large-scale “live ammunition” drill in the East China Sea exercise, involving China’s East Sea, North Sea and South Sea fleets practicing both offensive and defensive capabilities which involved 300 ships, dozens of fighter planes, and involved troops that are responsible for coastal defense radars, communications, and electronic warfare defense[2]. Not bothered by the American propaganda of China’s illegal construction of artificial islands in the South China Sea and the Hague ruling in July (where the ruling went against China), China went ahead and conducted for the first time a joint China-Russia naval drill in the South China Sea. Also in October after the United States Navy conducted a freedom of navigation operation where USS Decatur, an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer,sailed inside China’s illegal straight baselines in the Paracel Islands, China’s Sanya Maritime Bureau, located in Hainan province, announced a navigational restriction in the South China Sea ahead of a military exercise, ostensibly for the People’s Liberation Army-Navy (PLAN)[3].

Thus the coming years will see more of China’s aggressiveness both on land and at the sea. With the new American president not as politically and diplomatically correct like his predecessor, Asia is bound to see some anxious moments. India needs to clearly observe these signposts and build its military arsenal both in terms of its infrastructure as well as the weaponry so that credible deterrence against China is developed. There is a lot of merit in adopting the erstwhile Chinese premier Deng Xiaoping policy of “keep low profile and bind your time” till the time India achieves its economic and military goals internally and externally can continue with “Independent and Peaceful Development Strategy”.

End Notes

[1]PLA Drill in Xinjiang, at http://en.people.cn/n3/2016/1208/c90000-9152317.html

[2]China hold Massive naval drills at https://www.rt.com/news/354226-china-sea-navy-drills/

[3]South China Sea: PLA  Conducts Drill off Hainan Island at http://thediplomat.com/2016/10/south-china-sea-plan-conducts-drill-off-hainan-island/

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