BEIJING is amassing new weapons systems in its border with India complicating efforts towards a peaceful solution to the border stand-off.
Citing Global Times, ‘Asia Times’ reported that the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) announced the deployment of new self-propelled rapid-fire mortars to conduct ‘mobile, hit-and-run firing positions’. The mortars are the fourth new type of weapons systems brought by the PLA in the region, after the addition of a new 122-millimetre calibre self-propelled howitzer, armoured assault vehicles and long-range multiple rocket launcher systems.
The missile system and the rocket artillery have been identified as the HQ-17A field air defence missile system and the PHL-11 122mm caliber self-propelled multiple rocket launcher system.
However, the logistical burden of the weapons would likely make it difficult, if not impossible, to transport large amounts of mortar munitions up to higher altitudes, even if they were air-dropped by helicopters.
Last week, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said that India’s relationship with China is at crossroads following border tensions and its direction depends on whether the Chinese side will adhere to the consensus and whether it would follow through on bilateral agreements reached between the two countries.
India and China have disengaged from the Pangong Tso lake area in Ladakh following several rounds of diplomatic and military talks. The two sides have been discussing disengagement at the three other friction points of Gogra Heights, Hot Springs, and Depsang plains.