China Conducts Military 'Show Of Force' Drills With Tanks Near Indian Border

Both China and India have signaled they are seeking to deescalate soaring tensions along the disputed and loosely demarcated Line of Actual Control (LAC) which separates Indian-controlled territory from Chinese-controlled territory along Ladakh and the Chinese Tibet Autonomous Region.

This after on Monday night the deadliest border clash in a half-century erupted, after which the Indian Army confirmed 20 of its troops killed after being critically wounded followed by being “exposed to sub-zero temperatures in the high altitude terrain.” Though the Chinese side has yet to give details of PLA casualties, Indian media has widely reported that over 40 "enemy" soldiers were killed.

Though political leaders on both sides have said they don't want to stoke tensions possibly leading to outbreak of war, Chinese state media CCTV announced military drills designed as a 'show of force'. RT Arabic subsequently republished video of the undated exercises near the Line of Actual Control.

RT reported of the footage: "the Chinese State Radio and Television Corporation (CCTV) has announced a major military exercise near the area of ​​the armed border clash with India."

Chinese state media said the drills involved over 150 PLA troops; however, it's very possible the footage depicts exercises prior to this week's deadly border clash, and that it's being circulated as a new "warning" to New Delhi.

In new reporting Thursday, state-funded Global Times also confirmed the drills involve PLA special forces, tanks, and heavy artillery:

The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) has been conducting intensive military exercises of multiple dimensions, including high altitude tank and anti-tank drills in Southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, large-scale, long-distance maneuver of an army brigade to Northwest China, and nighttime group parachute infiltration, following the fatal clash between China and India in the border region.

These PLA drills not only showed that its forces stationed in border regions have high combat capability, but that troops from across China will also come to their aid, and the PLA can crush any aggression with land-air integrated joint operations, Chinese military experts said on Thursday.

But both sides are likely mobilizing additional forces even as emergency phone calls are exchanged between foreign ministers to try and walk back escalation.

In summary, here's where things stand, per Al Jazeera:

  • The foreign ministers of China and India have held telephone talks over the deadly border clash, agreeing to "cool down" the tensions.

  • In a TV address to the nation, India's PM Narendra Modi says the sacrifice of soldiers killed in Ladakh by China's army "will not go in vain".

  • India says the "violent face-off" is an attempt by China to "unilaterally change the status quo" on the Galwan Valley frontier in Indian-administered Ladakh.

  • Beijing, in turn, accuses the Indian army of "provoking and attacking Chinese personnel, resulting in serious physical confrontation".

While there's been reports of a rapid cooling of the situation, stationing tanks near the border doesn't suggest a lasting deescalation is on the horizon.