In a surprise move, China has elevated the rank of Tibet’s Military Command which looks after the security along its border with India by putting it under the jurisdiction of PLA ground forces, suggesting it may “undertake some kind of military combat mission in future.”
“China raises Tibet Military Command’s (TMC) power rank,” state-run Global Times said in a frontpage report.
“The TMC’s political rank will be elevated to one level higher than its counterpart provincial-level military commands and will come under the leadership of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA),” it reported citing another official newspaper the ‘China Youth Daily.’
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“The promotion marks a new journey for the TMC command’s construction,” it said.
The sudden “elevation” surprised many observers as the PLA in this year’s reform brought most of the provincial military commands under the control of Central Military Commission’s (CMC) new National Defence Mobilisation Department.
CMC, the overall high command of the PLA, is directly headed by President Xi Jinping, who is also the head of the ruling Communist Party.
“The TMC on the other hand, is under the leadership of the Chinese ground forces, which suggests that the command may undertake some kind of military combat mission in the future,” the report quoted a “source close to the matter” as saying.
There was no elaboration of what the “military combat mission” will be.
Seasoned military observers termed the report confusing.
Until last year, China had seven military area commands in Beijing, Nanjing, Chengdu, Jinan, Shenyang, Lanzhou and Guangzhou. Of this Chengdu looked after security of India’s Eastern sector in the Tibet region including Arunachal Pradesh while Lanzhou in Xinjiang looked after partly the western sector, including Kashmir region and Pakistan.
As per the new strategic zone plan, both Chengdu and Lanzhou gets integrated into strategic command region making it perhaps the biggest areas for Chinese military.
TMC may perhaps get a four-star General instead of a Lt General, while Lanzhou where the combat forces are stationed is already led by a General.
“Loosely put it, the report is very confusing. we need to more information to get a proper prospective,” a senior military official told.
India-China borders largely enjoy peace and tranquillity, notwithstanding the dispute over the 3,488-km long border. They have set up mechanism at the ground and at the level of the government to address issues relating to the recurring transgressions by PLA troops in the areas claimed by India.
The issue was broadly discussed during last month’s visit of Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar to China during which the two sides agreed to set up ‘Hot Lines’ between the militaries.