China’s President Xi Jinping urged the Chinese military “to enhance combat readiness” as he inspected a People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force division, ahead of a major national holiday in China.
Following Mr. Xi’s call, the PLA had been carrying out exercises near Taiwan while “high-altitude border defense troops of the Xinjiang Military Command received several new weapons and equipment, including advanced howitzers and assault vehicles as holiday gifts”, Communist Party-run Global Times reported.
Mr. Xi, who is also Chairman of the Central Military Commission, visited the PLA Air Force in the southwestern province of Guizhou last week in his last major trip ahead of China’s biggest annual holiday, the Lunar New Year, which runs from Thursday until February 17.
“It is usual practice for the Chinese military to enhance its combat readiness in major holidays,” Fu Qianshao, a Chinese military expert, told the Global Times. “History tells us that many wars broke out on holidays or at night when troops let their guard down. That is why we need to stay on high alert particularly when there are holidays, so we can stop any potentially dangerous moves or hostile reconnaissance.”
Official media affiliated to the PLA reported over the past few days moves to bolster logistical support to military commands near the Line of Actual Control (LAC), including the Xinjiang Military Command commissioning “its first batch of China’s newly developed Type 15 light tanks, which excels at rapid reaction combat in plateau regions”.
The official broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) reported a regiment attached to the PLA Xinjiang Military Command received the first batch last month and “immediately after the commissioning, the regiment sent the tanks to a freezing region at 4,300 m altitude for adaptation exercises, so they can rapidly form combat capability”.
Media affiliated to the PLA also reported earlier this month a border defence company at Shenxianwan near the Karakoram mountains at an elevation of 5,380 m had been equipped for long-term winter deployment by “introducing high-tech planting technologies” for vegetable growing in the harsh environment. The PLA had also recently completed “an off-grid new-energy microgrid that integrates wind energy, solar energy, diesel oil and battery storage systems” to provide “stable, all-weather power supply that will benefit troops’ routine training”.