Chinese President Xi Jinping’s exhortation to the military to “comprehensively strengthen the training of troops and prepare for war” will be a big boost to the confidence and morale of China’s commanders on the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh region.
Xi’s statement comes at a time when troops of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) of China have intruded 3-4 km into Indian territory in Ladakh and also established makeshift camps with arrangements for use of heavy military equipment. Soldiers from the two sides are engaged in fights using sticks and iron rods. They are not allowed to fire bullets under a peace agreement between the two countries.
Ground troops work through a chain of command and are often worried of being pulled up for their mistakes, if any, at a later date. The President’s statement would remove any worries they may have on this score.
Xi has specifically mentioned the issue of territorial protection when he asked the People’s Liberation Army to “safeguard the overall strategic stability of the country”.
China is worried about the United States encouraging Taiwan to take a more independent stand against Beijing and supporting it with military hardware. China regards Taiwan as its own territory and plans to seize it. Xi’s statement may have been caused by the Taiwan affair and also the changing situation in Hong Kong where students are getting ready for another revolt.
But troops on the ground in Ladakh region are expected to see it as an encouragement for their activities and try to push further into Indian territory.