China mock drill
Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) patrol the border area at Ngari, Tibet Autonomous Region, ChinaReuters

The situation at the India-China border has been relatively calm since the 73-day Doklam standoff ended on August 28, 2017. Sure there have been a few cold vibes here and there with reports saying that Chinese equipment is still present at the border, but no major or worrisome moves have been made by the two nations. Well, that's until now.

Latest reports state that China's People's Liberation Army, which remains stationed in Tibet, carried out a drill in the Himalayan region on Tuesday, June 26. Through the drill, PLA reportedly intended to "test their logistics, armament support capabilities and military-civilian integration," explained the state-run media.

The drill was held in collaboration with the Chinese government and local companies, and civilians too are said to have played an important role in it. The region is at a high altitude with tough weather conditions and tougher topography and the army finds it difficult to station soldiers and bulky equipment in the area.

To solve the deployment issues and other challenges such as supply and delivery of ammunition, emergency maintenance and safety, the PLA is known to have joined hands with civilians, who can aid the army in several ways, Zhang Wenlong, head of the command logistics support department, was quoted as saying by Xinhua News Agency.

The local companies too aided the army during the drill and a petroleum firm is said to have provided fuel, the moment the unit ran out of it. Not just that, the city government of Lhasa is said to have delivered food to the soldiers taking part in the mock war.

The drill seems to be garnering appreciation from several quarters and analysts too hailed PLA's efforts.

"The biggest challenge of battle at the high altitude is to provide sustainable logistics and armament support. In the 1962 China-India border conflict, China failed to protect its fruits of victory due to poor logistics support. Although local Tibetan residents provided soldiers with temporary support, it was not sustainable," Song Zhongping, a military expert, told the Global Times.

"The drill showed that military-civilian integration is a feasible strategy and could help form stronger combat power."

While people may be hailing the PLA for the drill and the strategy, the move could be worrisome for neighbour India, which shares the 3,488-km-long Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China.

Nathu La
Chinese soldiers guard the Nathu La mountain pass, between Tibet and the Indian state of Sikkim. [Representational Image]Reuters

Beijing is known for its high-pitched rhetoric and has often said that India cannot afford another standoff with China. The two nations have already had a faceoff in 2017 in the form of the Doklam standoff at the India-China border in Nathu La, Sikkim, and a new skirmish is surely not something New Delhi would want.

The Doklam standoff went on for 73 days, leading to the suspension of the Kailash Mansarovar Yatra from Nathu-La and the two nations also did not take part in the annual military exercise. Beijing and New Delhi also did not hold several Border Personnel Meets.

China's move comes weeks ahead of a senior Chinese general's India visit to strengthen ties and one cannot help but wonder if PLA's drill will be a topic of discussion at the meet.