China has expressed annoyance over recent Indian media reports that about 100 battle tanks have been deployed in eastern Ladakh.
China has expressed annoyance over recent Indian media reports that about 100 battle tanks have been deployed in eastern Ladakh. Linking economic aspects to military development, an opinion piece in the state-owned Global Times on Thursday said the high Indian illiteracy rate is a hindrance to increasing productivity “adding to evidence that India cannot make itself a promised land for Chinese manufacturers overnight”.
“Deployment of tanks near the Indo-China border may hit a nerve within the Chinese business community, causing investors to weigh the threat of political instability when they make investment decisions. There needs to be more focus on eliminating investor’s misgivings over non-economic factors,” it said. To rub it in, the report pointed out that India ranks 130 out of 189 countries on the World Bank index on the ease of doing business.
“The Modi administration has recently promoted a second round of reforms to attract more overseas investment by allowing foreign firms to increase their shareholding in local enterprises. However, it is puzzling that while deploying tanks near China’s border, India still strives to woo Chinese investment,” writes Hu Weijia of the state-owned Chinese government mouthpiece in the opinion section, which is usually taken as an underscoring of the government’s official stand.
Reacting to reports of the deployment, Chinese foreign ministry spokes-man Lu Kang told PTI in a written response: “The two countries should abi-de by relevant agreements and consensus, work in concert to maintain peace and tranquillity of the border area and create a favourable environment for improving bilateral mutual trust and bolstering proper settlement of the boundary question.”
News reports had appeared in Indian media three days back that two regiments of T-72 tanks have been deployed in eastern Ladakh with the first regiment being moved in 2014, another late in 2015 and a third regiment expected to be moved in soon so as to station a full brigade.
“This move to put tanks in east Ladakh was conceived about 25 years back. Although we do not know what kind of deployment China has on the other side, 100 tanks in such a huge area does not count for much and is a defensive posture at best,” a retired general told this newspaper.
Eastern Ladakh has a totally flat terrain girdled by high mountains and is considered suitable terrain for tank warfare, although extremely low night temperatures pose a handicap.
Transporting such heavy equipment to this area must have been a logistical nightmare and taken careful planning. It is likely that the US-made C-130 transport planes were used to airlift the tanks as road connectivity is very poor and rail links do not exist. Sources told this newspaper that more tanks will be deployed in the area.
In May, China had upgraded the level of the Tibet Military Command, which means more military resources for mobilisation for possible conflicts with India.
Interestingly, Chinese and Pakistani troops have for the first time launched joint patrolling of the border connecting Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir with China’s Xinjiang province. Since 2014, only Chinese troops have been conducting patrols in the area.