China to conduct air raid drill in Tibet

China is set to conduct an air raid drill today in Lhasa, the administrative capital of the Tibetan Autonomous Region.

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Photo: REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

China is set to conduct an air raid drill today in Lhasa, the administrative capital of the Tibetan Autonomous Region.

While Chinese state-run media purports that these exercises mark the annual National Defence Education Day, the timing of the drill coincides with simmering Sino-Indian tensions following the fallout from a border dispute in June. The Lhasa city government has acquiesced to the reported drill, framing it as an attempt to improve public perception of national defence and air defensive awareness.

This reassertion of Chinese sovereignty comes on the heels of Bharatiya Janata Party General Secretary Ram Madhav’s visit to Tibetan soldier Nyima Tenzin’s funeral last week. The visit was tantamount to acknowledgement that India had enlisted Tibetan exiles and was using Chinese nationals to fight the Chinese. Expect China to ramp up defensive drills in Tibet as a means of psychological warfare against Tibetan secessionists and to continue its sabre rattling in the region. While Lhasa serves no strategic purpose for China’s operations in Ladakh, the ensuing friction may see smaller border skirmishes erupt all across the Line of Actual Control, which demarcates the border between India and China.

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