According to a recent report from Claude Arpi (author of 1962 and the Mac Mahon Line Saga-Lancer), China is reportedly nervous about India raising a ‘Mountain Strike Corps’, the XVII Corps, with its headquarters at Panagarh in West Bengal, not too far from Sikkim (and Yatung).
When fully operational (by 2018-2019), the Corps, will spread on the 4,057 km Line of Actual Control from Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh. Also important to India is the railway linking Lhasa to Nyingchi Prefecture, located north of the McMahon Line, which is expected to start in a few months.
The recent heavy traffic of Communist VIPs/VVIPs from Beijing visiting Ngari (Western Tibet) is probably due to Beijing’s decision to consolidate its borders; namely the frontiers opposite Ladakh. Last month, China Military Online reported that General Xu Qiliang, a member of the Politburo and one of the two powerful vice chairmen of the Central Military Commission, inspected the area.
According to an official military website, ‘Xu Qiliang recently (it is not disclosed when) inspected the troops of the People’s Liberation Army and the People’s Armed Police Force garrisoning Xinjiang and Tibet. During the inspection, General Xu Qiliang visited the officers and men in frontier areas, and held talks with the leaders of the troop units garrisoning in Hotan (Xinjiang, near the Aksai Chin), Ali (Ngari or Gar) and Lhasa. The general went to the barracks of the Khurnak Fort frontier (opposite the Indian troops in Ladakh, north of the Pangong lake) defence company and Banmozhang (near Sirijp on the Pangong lake where many incursions have taken place) to inspect a water (speed-boats) squadron and inquire about the soldiers’ work, study and life. ‘There is no doubt that Xi Jinping will make sure that China is ready in case of a conflict with India. He will also be in a strong bargaining position if Prime Minister Narendra Modi decides one day to discuss the border issue.