China-India border dispute: PLA ‘has built frontline observation post’

Minnie Chan
·2-min read

The Chinese military has said for the first time that it has established a fully fledged strategic observation post near its high-altitude border with India.

A 10-minute report by China Central Television (CCTV) said a platoon of People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops held a ceremony this month marking the establishment of the post, based around rocky walls 5,592 metres (18,346 feet) above sea level on Doklam Plateau.

“Compared with their Indian peers who still need to build rock walls as a windscreen in the border area, the PLA troops’ facilities are more advanced and will be combat-ready for any possible fights,” Beijing-based military expert Zhou Chenming said.

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“The ‘5592’ post [had been] a temporary sentry stop in the aftermath of the 2017 border stand-off, but now it is a permanent observation post with 24-hour and all-weather military observers inside.”

The post, under the garrison based in Shigatse Military Base in Tibet, is located close to where the 2017 stand-off occurred between Chinese and Indian troops, according to CCTV.

Its footage showed PLA soldiers equipped with hi-tech weapons including heavy machine guns, mortars and off-road armoured vehicles. Lamb hotpot was said to be among the meals soldiers were served.

Previously, Chinese soldiers had to hide behind big rocks to shelter as they remained on alert for further potential clashes with Indian counterparts during the tough, chilly winter in the Himalayas, the report said.

The video showed the observation post was built with Hesco bastion gabion blast walls, with a thermostatic temperature of about 18 degrees Celsius (64 degrees Fahrenheit) when outside temperatures were below minus 20 degrees Celsius.

China-India border dispute: its origins and impact

“The 5592 post is the first frontline post where we can observe every move [from the Indian side] … letting us make a timely response,” Li Xin, a Chinese military instructor, told CCTV.

China and India have been embroiled in a months-long border row that included a bloody brawl in Galwan Valley last June in which 20 Indian soldiers and an unknown number of Chinese troops were killed.

Chaturvedy Rajeev Ranjan, a New Delhi-based military observer, said the Indian government had also provided comprehensive logistic support to its border troops, including winter clothing and equipment from the United States and other partners.

“Logistics support at the Indian side has improved and Indian forces are better prepared to deal with winter and enemy,” he said.

“The [Indian] military has also created smart accommodation facilities with arrangements for electricity, water and heating.”

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