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Sikkim standoff: Chinese troops hold advance military drill near Arunachal Pradesh

17 July 2017, 05:15 | Max Haynes

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A brigade of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) responsible for frontline combat operations has held "live fire exercises" in Tibet with a focus on boosting its "quick delivery of troops", Chinese media have reported.

The Indian Army is ready for a long haul in holding onto its position in the Dokalam area near the Bhutan tri-junction, notwithstanding China ratcheting up rhetoric against India demanding pulling back of its troops.

The remarks, made by Chinese state media, comes days after New Delhi said it is using diplomatic channels to resolve the issue with Beijing in a "peaceful manner".

According to the CCTV report, the brigade has always been stationed around the middle and lower reaches of the Brahmaputra (Yarlung Zangbo in Chinese) River which flows into India and Bangladesh.

The PLA Tibet guards the Line of Actual Control (LAC) of the India-China border and several other sections connecting the mountainous Tibetan region.

A fully-staffed and equipped brigade engaged in various drills involving the rapid movement of troops, use of digital devices and combined attacks by multiple forces, according to a China Central Television station (CCTV) report.

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The fresh military drill by Chinese forces comes almost a week after the PLA conducted an exercise in central Tibet, almost 15,000 feet above the sea-level.

China has been building dams over Yarlung Zangbo, causing concern in India that it could affect the flow of the Brahmaputra. "The 11-hour exercise covering a dozen elements was testimony to the PLA's combined strike capability", the report said.

The location of the drill, chosen by PLA, sends an intimidating signal to India amid the escalating border tensions between the two nations, experts opined.

"The PLA wanted to demonstrate it could easily overpower its Indian counterparts", it quoted Beijing-based military commentator Zhou Chenming as saying. Accusing India of "lying" before the world, the Chinese government's mouthpiece read, "New Delhi claimed encroachment of its own territory by China before saying it sent troops to "protect" its "ally" Bhutan, a sovereign state which has apparently so far made no such an invitation for the sake of that boundary area". Separately, Tibet's mobile communication agency conducted a drill on July 10 in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, where members practised setting up a temporary mobile network to secure communications in an emergency, the Global Times reported.

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