China opens new year with military training exercises in Tibet

Type 15 light tank. Credit: Military Leak
Type 15 light tank. Credit: Military Leak
Type 15 light tank. Credit: Military Leak
9th January 2020

China has opened the new year with military training exercises in Lhasa and Tibetan border regions.

The Chinese military has deployed some of its latest weapons in Tibet as part of a training exercise led by the People's Liberation Army (PLA), The Global Times reported on 5 January.

The 2020 new year exercises run by the Tibet Military Command, saw deployments across the country from Tibet’s capital of Lhasa to its border regions where terrain can reach elevations of over 4,000 metres. 

Helicopters, armoured vehicles, anti-aircraft missiles and heavy artillery were all involved. China also deployed new weapons including the Type 15 light battle tank and the 155mm vehicle mounted howitzer which are designed to work in high altitude environments like those found in Tibet.

Both have powerful engines designed to be capable of operating on difficult terrain and at high elevations, a Chinese military expert who reportedly asked not to be named told The Global Times

Heavier weapons belonging to potential enemies cannot reach the high elevations of Tibet's border regions, while lighter units that could reach them would not have enough firepower to be a threat, the expert told The Global Times.

The Type 15 tank and the howitzer were first shown to the Chinese public during a national day military parade on 1 October 2019.

The deployment of the new weapons will boost PLA combat capability on the Tibetan plateau, Chinese state news organisation, China Central Television (CCTV) said.

TAKE ACTION

In Tibet the Chinese Communist Party oversees what some have called the world's largest open air prison. The authorities have the power to switch the light on and off, peering into Tibetans' emails one moment and making political prisoners vanish from their families and friends, apparently into darkness, the next. Help us push for Tibet's hidden political prisoners to be found and released.