Amid the ongoing India-China border standoff, reports now suggest that China may have moved military hardware into Sikkim, which, if proven true, may result in the escalation of the situation. The mouthpiece of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) today announced that thousands of tons of hardware had been hauled to an area south of the Kunlun Mountains in northern Tibet, not very far away from the Dokalam area near the Bhutan tri-junction where the dispute began.
That the hardware haul had taken place was first announced by the PLA Daily, which acts as the official mouthpiece of the PLA. It is believed that the PLA’s Western Theatre Command, which is the wing that takes care of Xinjiang and Tibet besides handling and resolving border issues with India, was behind the haul.
Both roadways and railways have been used for the transfer of the military hardware, the PLA Daily stated. This may further exacerbate the already tense situation which has broken out in the Dokalam area, which China claims is part of its territory. While India recognizes the area as Doka La, Bhutan recognizes it as Doklam. China has persisted with claims that it is actually part of its Donglang region.
China Central Television had earlier broadcast images of the PLA troops participating in live-fire drills on the Tibetan Plateau. The Hong-Kong based South China Morning Post also reported today that the exercise was held not too far from the Dokalam area.
The PLA Daily has not clarified the reasons behind the hardware being transported. It might also be used to support the intense army drills China is currently engaged in. NDTV today quoted Wang Dehua, who is an expert on South Asian studies at the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, stating that the entire affair had once again demonstrated that China could easily support its western border.
Dehua elaborated,”Military operations are all about logistics. Now there is much better logistics support to the Tibet region.”
India and China have been engaged in an intense face off in the Dokalam area which began after Indian troops posted there prevented the Chinese Army from building a bridge in the area. The Centre has expressed displeasure with China’s road-building, saying that such an exercise will cut off the North-Eastern states from the rest of the mainland.
China, however, has maintained that it was legitimately building a road within its territory.