China

Prepare for war, China’s Xi Jinping tells army; Modi meets top military brass as border tension heats up

File Photo.

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday directed China’s armed forces to strengthen training of troops and to be ready for war amid coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic’s visible impact on the world’s most populous country’s national security.

State media reports quoted the Chinese premier as saying that it was important to “comprehensively strengthen the training of troops and prepare for war”, “resolutely safeguard national sovereignty” and “safeguard the overall strategic stability of the country”.

Xi’s speech comes amid rising tension with the US, frequent references by local politicians and diplomats of reunifying Taiwan, if necessary by force, and the likely implementation of a new – and controversial – security law meant to crack down on pro-democracy dissidents in the special administrative region of Hong Kong.

Two days back, China’s top diplomat Wang Yi, heavily criticised the efforts of some US politicians to fabricate rumours and stigmatise China to blame it for the pandemic.

In the midst of escalating border tension between Indian and Chinese troops in eastern Ladakh, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on Tuesday, held a meeting with National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat and the three service chiefs with a focus on bolstering India’s military preparedness to deal with external security challenges, government sources said.

The military brass is learnt to have apprised Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the evolving situation in eastern Ladakh, though the officials maintained that the agenda of the pre-scheduled meeting was to discuss the ambitious military reforms and ways to boost India’s combat prowess.

The meeting came hours after the top four generals briefed Defence Minister Rajnath Singh about the situation in Pangong Tso lake, Galwan Valley, Demchok and Daulat Beg Oldi where the Indian and Chinese troops were engaged in aggressive posturing for the last 20 days.

Satellite images show massive construction activity at a high altitude Chinese air base, located just 200 kilometres away from the Pangong Lake, the site of the skirmish between forces of India and China on May 5 and May 6.

Earlier, reports said that the Chinese Army in a recent stand-off with the Indian forces in the Pangosg Tso lake area in Eastern Ladakh sector used sticks, clubs with barbed wires and stones to target Indian security forces’ soldiers there.

According to sources, quoted by News Agency ANI, “the behaviour of the Chinese has been like the Pakistan-backed stone-pelters who use stones and sticks to target Indian security forces in the Kashmir valley.”

“The Chinese troops came armed with sticks, clubs with barbed wires and stones in an area near the Pangong Tso lake during a face-off with Indian troops there,” sources told ANI.

There are close to 10,000 soldiers of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) on Indian territory, reports have claimed.

The report said that dialogue is frozen, with the Chinese rebuffing Indian calls for flag meetings to resolve the situation.

Earlier, reports claimed that the Chinese troops have reportedly “come about three kilometres inside Indian territory” South East of the Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh.

China and India have been locked in a standoff with each other in eastern Ladakh, where the deteriorated after around 250 Chinese and Indian soldiers were engaged in a violent fist-fight on the evening of May 5 which spilled over to the next day before the two sides agreed to “disengage” following a meeting at the level of local commanders.

In the midst of the escalating tension, Army Chief General MM Naravane paid a quiet visit to the headquarters of 14 Corps in Leh on May 22 and reviewed with the top commanders the overall security scenario in the region including in the disputed areas along the LAC — the de-facto border between India and China.

China has also decided to evacuate its citizens in India.

 

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