Friday, June 26, 2020

The great Chinese bluff on Galwan and Aksai Chin

My article The great Chinese bluff on Galwan and Aksai Chin appeared in The Daily Guardian

On June 19, 2020, the Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian, one of the ‘wolf-warrior’ diplomats, provided what he called a step-by-step account of the Galwan clash which occurred on June 15; he stated that the Galwan Valley was located “on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control in the west section of the China-India boundary”.
While accusing India of “unilaterally building roads, bridges and other facilities in the Galwan Valley region”, Zhao asserted that Galwan has always belonged to China. To understand how false this statement is, it is necessary to look into history.

The Annexation of Xinjiang
Hardly two months after Mao solemnly announced the birth of the People’s Republic of China from the Tiananmen Square, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) annexed Xinjiang, closing down the Indian Consulate General in Kashgar in the same stroke.
Delhi was told that the new regime wanted to renegotiate all its former agreements, a position untenable in international law.
By taking over Xinjiang, Mao controlled the western borders of the Middle Kingdom and the access to Central Asia; he also came for the first time in contact with the Indian frontiers, particularly the Aksai Chin area, witnessing the present tension.
The capture of Xinjiang, formerly East Turkestan was perhaps one of the greatest military and strategic feats in modern annals; it is only due to India’s weakness at that time that China could advance its frontier southward.

What happened next?
After the PLA entered Lhasa in September 1951, the Chinese made plans to improve communications and built new roads on a war-footing. One should not forget that in 1950 (when Eastern and Western Tibet were invaded), a caravan from the Chinese border took two months to reach Lhasa, the Tibetan capital. The only way to consolidate and ‘unify’ the Empire was to construct a large network of roads. One of these roads was the Tibet-Xinjiang Highway (today infamously known as the Aksai Chin road).
The first surveys were done at the end of 1951-52 and construction began in 1953-54 and it was eventually inaugurated in July 1957.

A daring mission
In early 1957, the Army selected an officer to go with a patrol and physically confirm the reports that China was building a road in the Aksai Chin area; the officer was Lt Col RS Basera of 1 Kumaon Rifles. Later, in a note Basera’s son wrote: “His mission was to be tough, exciting and most unique, as he had to proceed under cover to the vast plateau of Aksai Chin and confirm reports that the Chinese were constructing a motorable road from Kashgar to Lhasa.”
Disguised as a yak herder, Basera was accompanied by Havildar Diwan Singh from the Corps of Engineers. They were to move with three genuine Ladakhi yak herders. During a briefing at the Headquarters in Leh, Basera was told that it was crucial to maintain utmost secrecy about the mission.
The Military Intelligence (MI) instructed them not to carry any documents that could disclose their identities, no notes should be taken. They were asked to memorize the map and the route: “They had to move in the easterly direction from Leh for about 250-300 km, till they reached the expected location of the new Chinese built road, in Aksai Chin. Initially, they would pass over difficult, undulating terrain, till they crossed the Karakoram Mountain Range and Shyok River,” wrote Basera’s son. Their mission was of national importance, said their handlers in the MI.
After a long and adventurous journey, they finally entered Aksai Chin. On the third day, one of the herders suddenly pulled Basera's shoulder and showed him a dark line on the horizon; it was the road. They mentally noted every detail of the road that was not yet tarred and rushed back to inform the authorities of their discovery. They were asked to report in Delhi. According to the report of Basera’s son: “the defense minister surprisingly supported the Chinese side, and even called it a friendly neighbour. He asked the MI director (DMI), if the area through which the road passed had been confirmed on a map.”
But that was not all, the Prime Minister and the defense minister, “more or less rebuked the DMI for sending the patrol. The PM told the defense minister that no more such patrols were to be sent to Aksai Chin till the matter had been thoroughly investigated,” as such patrols could easily vitiate the good relations between friendly neighbours, Nehru added.
Returning to his post, Lt Col Basera felt utterly dejected: “The long and difficult patrol they had undertaken, now appeared to have been a futile, month-long exercise.”
The History of the Conflict with China, 1962 published by the Indian Ministry of Defense cited other cases: “In order to ascertain the exact alignment of the road before sending a protest to China, two reconnaissance-cum-survey parties were send out in the summer of 1958; an army party under Lt Iyengar [from the Madras Sappers] towards the north and an Indo-Tibetan Border Police party under Karam Singh, Deputy Superintendent of Police towards the southern extremity of the road.”
The Official History says: “The Army party did not return because they had been arrested by the Chinese and were released two months later. From the police party, it was learnt that a part the Tibet-Sinkiang highway was definitely in Indian territory.”
There is no doubt that the Indian government had information about the road crossing the Indian territory, as early as the mid-1950s.
The greatest tragedy is that there must be hundreds of such files zealously kept in the almirahs of South Block (either in the MEA or the MOD).
The ‘secrecy’ is today helping some political parties to criticize the government, overlooking what had been happened in the past, with the consequences what we can see today in Galwan or Hot Springs.
Why the present government is not releasing these files is a mystery.
Regarding Mr Zhao’s assertions, there was no Chinese in the Aksai Chin before the mid-1950s; it is probably what China calls ‘time immemorial’.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

India, Tibet, Xinjiang: tales of China's Broken Promises

My article India, Tibet, Xinjiang: tales of China's Broken Promises was published by Strategic News International

The Ladakh situation, especially the brutal killing of the Commanding Officer (CO) of the 16 Bihar regiment and 19 of his men, has generated a lot of debate in the printed media as well the TV studios; some observers noticed that India has the largest number of experts not only in cricket, but also in the medical field (COVID-19) and even in defense matters.
However, some comments which came from knowledgeable former diplomats who served in China or retired Army generals who had dealt with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA), are worth noting.
In the first category, Ambassador Gautam Bambawale rightly explained on this channel that Beijing has broken one clause or another, of each and every agreement that it was signed with India since 1993 to maintain peace and tranquility along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
The fact that the mysterious line never existed, except in the Machiavellian mind of Zhou Enlai is not relevant here.

Some Other Examples
I would like to add a few examples of promises not kept by Communist China after 1949, which have tremendous implications on the present situation.
Hardly two months after Mao solemnly announced the birth of the People’s Republic of China from the Tiananmen Square, the PLA annexed Xinjiang …closing down the Indian Consulate General in Kashgar in the same stroke.
Delhi was told that the new regime would have to renegotiate all its former agreements, a position untenable in international law.
By taking over Xinjiang, Mao controlled the western borders of the Middle Kingdom, he could access trade with Central Asia and block any possibility of Soviet southward advance; he also came for the first time in contact with the Indian frontiers, particularly the Aksai Chin area, witnessing the present tension.
The capture of Xinjiang, formerly East Turkestan was perhaps one of the greatest strategic feats in modern military annals.
Mao Zedong’s words are telling about the mindset of the Chinese military leaders at that time: “People may ask if there is contradiction to abandon a territory gained by heroic battle. This is to put the wrong question. Does one eat to no purpose simply because he relieves himself later? Does one sleep in vain because one wakes up and goes about? These are illusions born out of subjectivism and formalism and do not exist in real life.”
The ‘real life’ meant controlling Xinjiang and Tibet …and the Aksai Chin, including Galwan, Hot Springs or Pangong tso areas and building a road linking the two new acquired provinces. This was done in the earlier 1950s.
The first broken promise was about the Indian Consulate in Kashgar, despite Beijing’s promises, it would never be reopened.
Further, Beijing repeatedly told the Uyghurs that the PLA had come to help them to develop the area; the Uyghurs still do not understand how they have been ‘helped’ during all these decades.
India kept the closure of its Consulate secret because “nothing could be done about it”.

The Case of Tibet

A few months later, Sir Girja Shankar Bajpai, the Secretary General of the Ministry of External Affairs told the US Ambassador Loy Henderson: “India [is] at present so immersed in problem [of] maintaining world peace it was giving little thought to Tibet; in fact, he did not recall that Tibet was even mentioned during recent Commonwealth Conference.”
That was another blunder.
A two-phase operation was meticulously planned by Mao Zedong; the first part culminated in the Battle of Chamdo n 1950. which saw the Tibetan forces being decimated; after the winter had passed, the Communist regime started the second phase, a diplomatic one; the weak Tibetan State was forced to put its thumbprint on an agreement allowing Communist China to take over the Land of Snows.
An ‘Agreement on Measures for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet’, better known as the ‘17-Point Agreement’ was signed (‘under duress’ according the Dalai Lama) in Beijing on May 23, 1951 by Ngabo Ngawang Jigme, the former Governor of the Eastern Province of Kham, then a prisoner of war.
The Tibetan delegates were ‘trapped’ into this (the seals of the Tibetan government had to be forged for the purpose, but never mind). The consequences for Tibet would be most momentous; Tibet would lose its independence.
But there too, China did not keep its promises.
For example, Article 4 said: “The central authorities will not alter the existing political system in Tibet. The central authorities also will not alter the established status, functions and powers of the Dalai Lama. Officials of various ranks shall hold office as usual.”
This and many other promises would never be kept.
Though the Agreement meant an obvious loss of autonomy for Tibet, which was bad for India’s frontiers, an attitude of hopelessness prevailed in Delhi during the following months and years. At the same time, Nehru was trying to solve ‘more important’ problems, i.e. Korea for example.
As soon as the Tibetans had signed on the dotted line, Mao sent the PLA in Tibet to ‘implement’ the clauses which were convenient to China.
On September 9, 1951, several thousand PLA troops entered Lhasa under the command of General Wang Qimei; subsequently 20,000 troops began to occupy the most strategic points on the Tibetan Plateau.
With no objection from the Government of India on the take-over of Tibet, Mao wanted the supremacy of the PLA to be established on the ground.
Once the military take-over of Tibet had been ‘legalized’ by the 17-Point Agreement, the Communist plans unfolded. The next step for Beijing was to subdue the Indian government with a well-orchestrated propaganda of ‘eternal friendship’ between the two Asian giants; the Hindi-Chini-Bhai-Bhai honeymoon between Delhi and Beijing began to flourish.
But over the next months and years, the Indian officials posted on the Roof of the World would discover the true objectives of the Communists; but nobody in Delhi or the Indian Embassy in Beijing was ready to listen to their reports.

The Panchsheel Agreement
In April 1954, India and China signed the so-called Panchsheel Agreement about Tibet, to which the Tibetans were not even invited to participate. India’s long border with Tibet (now China) was wishfully deemed settled in the process; Delhi thought that by signing this hasty agreement, it had ‘fixed’ the border.
But two months later, the ink on the treaty had hardly dried, the Chinese troops walked into Indian territory; the PLA entered for the first time in Barahoti, a small flat grazing ground located in today’s Chamoli district of Uttarakhand.
It was another broken promise, the first two of the Five Principles (‘Panchsheel’) spoke of ‘Mutual respect for each other's territorial integrity and sovereignty and Mutual non-aggression’.
At that time, the Indian Government started noticing some cartographical aggression by Beijing; it was the beginning of the ‘Chinese Aggression in Maps’ (see maps).

The Case of Barahoti
Every year, intrusions are reported in this area ‘perceived’ by China as its territory, even though the small basin is located south of watershed marked by the Tunjun-la pass.
In April 1958, for the first time, officials of India and China sat together to try and sort out the issue. It was a first rehearsal for the long negotiations which would take place in 1960. Both would lead nowhere.
As a compromise, India agreed that Chinese ‘unarmed’ patrols could visit the place in summer till the case was solved; Beijing never kept its promise and repeatedly sent armed soldiers to Barahoti.
Sixty-two years after the negotiators agreed to be unarmed, the Chinese still cross the Tunjun-la and walk into the desolate area.
Worse, on June 4, 2017, PTI reported: “Two helicopters of the People's Liberation Army of China hovered over Chamoli district in Uttarakhand, triggering concern in India's security establishment about the fourth such incursion into Indian airspace since March this year.”
This was two weeks before the beginning of the Doklam episode.
During the ‘Wuhan Consensus’, President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Modi tried to find a modus operandi on the border to avoid incidents such as in Doklam, but Chinese intrusions continued to take place and helicopter aerial violations were reported in 2018 and in 2019.
One could list many more broken promises, the minutes of a meeting held between China and India in 2012 proved that the mutual agreement not to disturb the trijunction Bhutan-Sikkim-Tibet, was not respected; on June 16, 2017, Beijing broke its promises and started to build a road in Doklam area.

Further examples could be cited.
With this mindset, it is not surprising that the Chinese troops did not respect the agreement reached at the meeting of the Corps Commanders on June 6 to disengage from Galwan and Hot Springs sectors … and to remain unarmed (a mace is after all a weapon, isn’t it?).
India should learn that Beijing respects its commitments only when it is convenient for its objectives or interests.
Tibetans and Uyghurs too, who were the first to suffer from broken promises, should remember this, if they want to negotiate one day a solution for the future of their motherland.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Tibetans in the PLA Paramilitary

According to the Tibet site of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), on June 15, the Tibet Military Command or District (TMD) held a special flag presentation ceremony for five new militia units, which will be working under the PLA.
The Global Times reported: “PLA Tibet military command and Tibet Autonomous Region held a flag presentation ceremony for 5 new militia units including an air patrol team, polar communication team and extreme climbing team in Lhasa. The duties of the militia units are patrol and emergency rescue.”
Two units have not been named.

Comments from China Defense Blog
The author of the military blog commented on the function: "Recently China's Tibet MD commissioned 5 units of 'militia' into its rank.   Personally, I think the phase 'militia' could be a mis-translation conjures a negative connotation of a bunch farmers and their Type56 semi-automatic carbines.    Those ex-PLA has their own chopper fleet and air traffic radar sites, providing air patrol as well as S&R [Service and Recovery ] operations, not exactly living on rice and beans here.
They are more aligned with the US 'civilian auxiliary' 'Civil Air Patrol' than the 'people's militia' of the 1960 we knew and loved."

What is the Militia
The Militia in China is one part of the armed forces of China; the other two being the People's Liberation Army (PLA) and the People's Armed Police (PAP).
The Militia, under the Communist Party serves as an auxiliary and reserve force for the PLA.
It is one of the largest militias in the world, said to have 8 million members.
According to Article 22 of the Law of the People's Republic of China on National Defence, the Militia, under the command of military organs, shoulders the tasks of preparations against war and defence operations, and assists in maintaining public order.
According to Article 36 of the Military Service Law of the People's Republic of China, the Militia's tasks are:
  • To take an active part in the socialist modernization drive and be exemplary in completing the tasks in production and other fields;
  • To undertake the duties related to preparations for war, defend the frontiers and maintain public order; and
  • To be always ready to join the armed forces to take part in war, resist aggression and defend the motherland.
The militia is organized into regional militia corps in each of the five theater commands of the PLA.
It works under the overall coordination of the National Defense Mobilization Commission of the Central Military Commission (CMC), which can order the deployment of its personnel during peacetime and wartime, if and when ordered by the CMC Chairman (Xi Jinping).

Lt Gen Zhang Xuejie
Not a banal function
First, because it was presided by Lt Gen Zhang Xuejie, TMD Political Commissar.
General Zhang is the senior most PLA officer, along with Lt Gen Wang Haijiang, the commander of the Tibet Military District, facing India’s northern borders.
In 2018, Gen Zhang replaced Lt Gen Wang Jianwu, who has been transferred as Deputy Director of the all-powerful Political Work Department of the CMC.
According to Chinese specialized website, Zhang Xuejie served for several years in the former Nanjing Military Region first as Political Commissar of the 91st Division of the Army’s 31st Army, and then deputy director of the Political Department of the 31st Army,
In 2013, he was posted as Political Commissar of the 12th Army of the Army; the same year, he became a major general.
In 2014, he served as political committee member of the 31st Army of the Army.
In 2017, he became deputy director of the Political Work Department of the PLA’s Eastern Theater (ETC).
In May 2018, he was promoted as TMD Political Commissar.
Let not forget that the TMD had been upgraded to a sub-theater unit, under the PLA Army or Ground Force of the Central Military Commission in 2016.
Zhang became lieutenant general in June 2019 and in January 2020, his name was added to the TAR’s Standing Committee of the Communist Party.

What does gen Zhang’s presence at this function mean?
The Chinese authorities have obviously decided to integrate more Tibetans in the defense forces, at least in the paramilitary forces, giving them good salaries and buying their fidelity.
The Political Commissar chairing the function means to it part of Beijing ‘political work’ to stabilize Tibet …and the borders.
This could have serious implications for India who is fighting a battle in the Himalaya for an imaginary Line of Actual Control, which Beijing has systematically refused to define.

Che Dalha

Behind the Political Commissar is Che Dalha (དགྲ་ལྷ, 齐扎拉), romanized as Che Zala and Qizhala.
He is Chairman of Tibet Autonomous Region since January 15, 2017.
Born in August 1958 in Zhongdian County (today’s Yunnan), he is the senior most Tibetan official in the TAR. He heads the government since October 2017; further, he is a member of the Communist Party of China’s Central Committee.
He earlier served as Communist Party Secretary of the Tibetan capital Lhasa between 2012 and 2017.
His presence demonstrates the importance for China to ‘integrate’ the local Tibetans in the defence forces.

Maj Gen Ngawang Sonam
Also on the dais, is Maj Gen Ngawang Sonam, a Tibetan general who is presently deputy commander of TMD.
Ngawang Sonam was born in Yushu, (Jyekundo in today’s Qinghai province) in October 1962.
He became a member of the Communist Party of China early in his life and graduated in Political Work from the PLA’s Xuanhua Artillery Command Academy.
He was a PLA delegate to the 12th National Peoples’ Party (NPC).
He was then serving as deputy commander of the Qinghai Military Region
A few years ago, I mentioned Gen Ngawang Sonam on this blog:
Ngawang [Ang Mong] Sonam is a Deputy Commander of Military District, Qinghai Military District of Lanzhou Military Area Command. A Chinese publication noted: "These [officers] bring pride to the rugged western China [Tibet and Xinjiang], they are absolutely honest and have defended the country's frontiers with their blood; they feel from their heart for the people.”
The publication added: “Minority officers, who represent the people in ethnic minority areas in the country's highest political authority [the NPC] are dedicated to a strong army and China’s steadfast dream.’ He decided to follow the footsteps of his elder brother and join the army. Many Tibetans like Ngawang Sonam have a pastoral background; most of them did not even know how to use chopsticks, explained a Chinese publication; they learned the skill in the PLA: “We were also taught Chinese, we learned to write Chinese characters, as the Chinese soldiers did know how speak the minority language (Tibetan),” Sonam recalled, adding: “By the time the [Tibetan] soldiers are demobilized, they are usually proficient in Chinese and can read the local language as well.
All this does not augur well for the relations between India and Tibet.
It needs to be followed closely as nobody in India would like to have one day to fight against Tibetan soldiers and officers.

Add caption

The Next Day, Lt Gen Wang Hiajiang, Commander, TMD visiting the area

How India can combat Chinese guile in Ladakh

Gurkha Rifles
My article How India can combat Chinese guile in Ladakh appeared in Mail Today and DailyO

The core issue is that there is no agreed LAC today as both parties have failed to exchange maps; this leaves the space for Beijing to create problems.

We are told that the Ladakh front is more peaceful after Lt Gen Harinder Singh met Maj Gen Liu Lin, commander of the South Xinjiang Military Region, at Moldo near the Line of Actual Control (LAC) on June 6,
The troops would have started 'retreating a bit' (2-2.5 km) in 3 out of 4 sectors, namely, Patrolling Points (PP) 14 and 15 (in Galwan area) and 17 PP (near Hot Springs). However the Chinese remain adamant in the Finger 4 area, north of Pangong Tso (lake).
In the next few days, more meetings will take place at the Division and Battalion commanders' level. We can only pray and hope for the best, but it will probably take months for the issue to be sorted out, as some believe that General Zhao Zongqi, the big boss and commander of the Western Theater command overlooking the entire Indian border, is batting for a promotion to the Central Military Commission, the 'paradise' for a Chinese general; as long as he does not get what he wants, the issue may continue to remain hot.

Familiar pattern
In any case, the core issue is that there is no agreed LAC today as both parties have failed to exchange maps; this leaves the space for Beijing to create problems. It remains that the so-called LAC has drastically moved over the years. Let us go back to October 1962.
On October 20 at 4:30 am, the Chinese launched their first attack with artillery and mortar fire in the Ladakh sector; the Chinese troops advanced in different places, whose names are today familiar: Galwan, Hot Springs, Sirijap or Chushul. One of their objectives was to capture Srijap 1, a post established on the northern bank of Pangong Lake by the 1st Battalion of 8 Gorkha Rifles commanded by Major Dhan Singh Thapa. Today the Indian and Chinese are fighting for Finger 4 which is located 15 kilometres west of Sirijap 1. Over the years, the PLA has slowly, but surely moved the line westwards into Indian Territory.

An age-old strategy
In 1962, the post was strategically important for the defence of Chusul airfield; Major Thapa and his men, surrounded by far superior Chinese forces, held the post and repelled three attacks before being overrun. The Gurkhas fought so valiantly that Thapa was awarded the Param Vir Chakra; he was made a prisoner of war (PoW) in Pishan in South Xinjiang; the Army, without any news, declared him 'missing in action' and his wife 'posthumously' received the highest war-time award from the President of India in early 1963. The citation said that the post "was attacked by the Chinese in overwhelming strength after being subjected to intensive artillery and mortar bombardment. Under his gallant command, the greatly outnumbered post repulsed the attack, inflicting heavy casualties on the aggressors." When future negotiations take place in Moldo the sacrifice of this great soldier should be remembered as well as that LAC was then in Sirijap. In Pishan, Major Thapa underwent severe punishments for having killed so many Chinese and, to refuse to make statements against the Indian Army and government.
The Chinese's game-plan was to brainwash the Gurkhas, "you are like us, racially, we are not different, don't side with the Indians". In the PoW camps, the Gurkha troops were even kept separately and better treated than other Indian soldiers, but they all remained faithful to their illustrious regiment.
In Pishan, Major Thapa underwent severe punishments for having killed so many Chinese and refusing to make statements against the Indian Army and government. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
Sometime in April 1963, while he was still 'missing in action', Thapa was brought back from Xinjiang to Central Tibet to be repatriated along with some other 26 other senior Indian officers. But before that, they were compulsorily taken for a tour of China. What happened to Maj Thapa and his colleagues, led by Brigadier John Dalvi of the Himalayan Blunder fame, is worth recounting. Though the Chinese told the Indian Chargé d'Affaires in Beijing, Dr PK Banerjee that the officers were keen to see 'New China', the officers were taken around against their will. The Communist leadership had planned to 'parade' these officers on the Tiananmen Square on May 1 on Labour Day. When Brig John Dalvi opposed this final humiliation for his men, the Chinese had to drop their plans.
The next day, the 27 officers were allowed to visit the Indian Embassy in Beijing (part of Beijing's propaganda efforts, to show how 'liberal' China was).

Blast from the past?

According to Banerjee's memoirs: "All the members of the embassy with enthusiasm produced enormous quantities of excellent and varied delicacies from almost all of India, … the drinks included lassi, coffee and champagne."
The Indian officers heard that Chinese propaganda based on the distortion of statements was going around in India, what would happen when they returned to India? In the party, Lt Col Khera called Banerjee in a corner and pointed out to Thapa, the 'posthumous' PVC awardee: "We had another round of champagne to celebrate," recalled the Chargé later. When the officers left, Banerjee cabled Delhi suggesting giving the officers a hero's welcome when they land in India "…otherwise we would be strengthening China's pernicious propaganda about the Indian armed forces." Unfortunately, the officers were treated in a most insensitive manner.
Many things have changed, the government and the nation have more respect for the defence forces, but the fact remains that the Chinese continue with their behaviour in pushing forward the borders of India. It is probably genetic.

Monday, June 15, 2020

India vs China: Time to open some new fronts

My article
India vs China: Time to open some new fronts appeared in Asian Age/Deccan Chronicle.

This history shouldn’t be forgotten when one looks at the present events in Ladakh, though “establishment”, says that nobody should worry

On July 12, 1962, India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru landed at Delhi’s Palam airport; he was back from a family holiday in Kashmir. The National Herald described the scene thus: “Pandit Nehru returned by a special plane from Kashmir after a week’s holiday. He was accompanied by Mrs Indira Gandhi, Mrs Vijayalakshmi Pandit and his two grandsons. The Prime Minister was looking better after the rest.
“The presspersons literally jumped on the Prime Minister: Chinese troops had encircled an Indian picket in a remote unknown place of Ladakh, the spokesman of the external affairs ministry had just told them: ‘There has been no change in the situation caused by encircled Indian post in the Galwan river valley in Ladakh by Chinese intruders’. But the Prime Minister was cool: ‘No conflict had occurred so far between the Indian and Chinese personnel at the Galwan outpost in Ladakh’.”
The tendency to minimise Chinese intrusions is nothing new; that day at the airport, Nehru explained “some time or the other the Chinese will have to end their encirclement of the Indian outpost to avoid an armed clash”.
A correspondent dared point out that according to the latest Indian protest note the situation was serious, and the PM agreed. “Yes. They are pitched in a high key. Anyhow, so far as I know, nothing has happened, no conflict has occurred,” he said, adding: “Some time or the other the [Chinese] will have to [end the encirclement].”
Nehru was cheerful, and even joked as the correspondents trooped around him, laughingly asking: “Are you now encircling me?”
Two days later, before leaving for Bengaluru, Nehru again told the press: “While there was a risk of a clash between Indian and Chinese forces at Galwan post in Ladakh, I don’t think there will be any major clash.” He then added: “They accuse us and we accuse them. It’s very difficult to say what will happen… There is a risk of a clash, but not a major one.”
The MEA annual report explained India’s position: “In July 1962 Chinese troops encircled an Indian post in the Galwan Valley, [the Indian government has] indicated their willingness to enter into discussions on the India-China boundary question… as soon as the tensions have eased and a suitable climate for talks and discussions is created”. The Chinese troops eventually withdrew from the area.
This background appears interesting as one looks at the present situation in Ladakh, where PLA troops are facing the Indian troops in a similar manner.
The summer 1962 incident sent a false message to the government, and particularly to arrogant defence minister V.K. Krishna Menon, who was on his way to Geneva to meet Marshal Chen Yi, China’s foreign minister; but it made many Indian officials, including then Intelligence Bureau chief B.N. Mullick, believe the Chinese would never attack, or if they did it would be a minor clash.
We know what happened three months later, when a totally unprepared Indian Army had to face the onslaught of the Chinese PLA.
This history shouldn’t be forgotten when one looks at the present events in Ladakh, though today’s “establishment”, like yesterday’s, says that nobody should worry and the issue will be sorted out through negotiations (today it’s called “mechanisms”). But the issue may not vanish that fast.
Ambassador R.S. Kalha, in his book India-China Boundary Issues, has recalled: “Nehru seemed to be convinced that the Chinese would not make any major incursion into Indian-held territory. Perhaps Krishna Menon convinced him so. Nehru told Gen. Thapar (Army Chief) that he had ‘reliable information that the Chinese would not offer resistance if there was a show of force to make them vacate the checkposts’. The events in the Galwan Valley seemed to confirm Nehru’s thesis, when Chinese troops advanced right up to the Indian post, surrounded it, but did not open fire and eventually withdrew.”
The ambassador added: “This was not the message the Chinese wished to convey. They intended it as a warning that they could eliminate any Indian post at any time, but Nehru misread it and reached the opposite conclusion that China would not fight.”
Galwan remained quiet till October 20, the day the PLA launched a massive attack; as a result, 36 Indian soldiers were killed and another 32, mostly wounded, were taken prisoners in Tibet.
Maj. Gen. P.J.S. Sandhu, editor of the fascinating study 1962: A View from the Other Side of the Hill, recently remarked: “Unlike in NEFA, the Chinese did not withdraw even an inch in Ladakh. They stayed put where they had reached: their 1960 Claim Line. In Ladakh, they had claimed about 33,500 sq km of Indian territory; by the end of the war, they had taken control of most of it, except about 450 sq km of area which remain till today as a few disputed pockets.”
What makes the present situation extremely serious is that in Ladakh, while  there are 12 “disputed” areas along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), where China’s and India’s “perceptions” differ, the area where the conflict is now taking place was not one of them. In Galwan, the LAC “perceptions” were similar till the beginning of May, when the PLA started planting tents in the area.
What seems obvious is that the PLA’s objective is to block infrastructure construction on the Indian side, regardless of whether they have ever claimed the area before or not.
The question remains: Why has China always refused to inform India of its “perceptions” of the LAC?
In 2000, both sides agreed they would initiate a process for the clarification and determination of the LAC in all sectors; a first meeting took place in March 2000, where maps of the middle sector were exchanged.
On June 17, 2002, both sides met again and maps of the western sector were seen by both sides for about 20 minutes, but during the meeting itself the maps were withdrawn since it was felt that they represented maximalist positions for both sides.
In these circumstances, it is high time for India to not only insist on the immediate exchange of maps of the LAC, but also to select a few points of pressure which could be painful for Beijing – such as Tibet, Taiwan or Hong Kong -- and if necessary, to start applying pressure.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

New Changes in the Western Theater Command (updated)

On December 13, 2019, as the Corona virus had probably started spreading in Wuhan, Xi Jinping Chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC) promoted seven lieutenant generals to the rank of full general (‘Three Stars’). One of them was Lt Gen He Weidong who was transferred on promotion as commander of the Eastern Theater Command (ETC).
According to Xinhua News Agency, the promotion ceremony for the rank of general was held at the Beijing’s Bayi (PLA) Building and Chairman Xi issued the orders of promotion.
The officers promoted were He Weidong, Commander of the Eastern Theater, He Ping, Political Commissar of the Eastern Theater, Wang Jianwu, Political Commissar of the Southern Theater, Li Qiaoming, Commander of the Northern Theater, Zhou Yaning, Commander of the Rocket Army, Li Fengbiao, Commander of the Strategic Support Force and Military Dean of the Academy of Sciences Yang Xuejun.

Promotion of new generals
Xi’s Visit to Wuhan
Incidentally, on October 18, 2019, Xi Jinping flew to Wuhan to attend the first Party Congress of the PLA’s Joint Logistic Support Force (JLSF). Xinhua said that Xi Jinping encouraged the JLSF delegates and other senior officers stationed in Hubei province “to faithfully perform their duties and contribute to fulfilling the dream of a strong military.”
Did Xi know then that the JLSF would play a crucial role in the ‘war’ against the COVID-19, which erupted in the capital city of Hubei province just a month later, on November 17?
Did he know that there was something fishy going on around the wet fish market a few kilometers away, as well as the two laboratories located in Wuhan? There is no answer so far.

Military Reforms
In 2018, the Chinese media reported that the Tibet Military Command/Military District in the WTC had been elevated by one level compared to other provincial-level military districts and placed under the PLA Army (PLAA or PLAGF). The China Brief of the Jamestown Foundation explained: “Most provincial-level military districts are under the National Defense Mobilization Department of the CMC with responsibility for reserves, militia and conscription.”
In 2016 already, an article in The Global Times reported that the Tibet Military Command was responsible “for operations against India, at least in the Arunachal Pradesh area, training forces for specialized high-altitude mountain warfare and long-range mobility for such a contingency.”
The Xinjiang Military District (XMD) is also under PLAA (or PLAGF) command, “The current reforms and reorganization make the services responsible for force development and training their respective forces, which would appear to include the Army commands in the Tibet and Xinjiang Military Districts,” said the Jamestown Foundation.
What is interesting for India is the Gen He Weilong was previously deputy commander of the WTC and Commander of the WTC Army Component or Ground Force (GF). It shows the importance of the post.

General He Weidong
Who is General He Weidong?
According to Chinese websites, He Weidong was born in the town of Xuhe, in Dongtai, Jiangsu in May 1957.
After middle school, he enlisted in the People's Liberation Army (PLA) in December 1972.
In 1981, he graduated from PLA Nanjing Army Command College and in 2001, he entered the National University of Defense Technology.
He served as deputy chief of staff of the Nanjing Military Region; commander of the Jiangsu Military District (July 2013 – March 2014); commander of the Shanghai Security District and member of the Standing Committee of the Shanghai Municipal Committee (March 2014 – February 2016).
Post military reforms, He Weidong was transferred and served as deputy commander and commander of the GF in the WTC (February 2016 – December 2019) as well as deputy secretary of the party committee of the GF in the WTC.
He was promoted to the rank of major general in July 2008; lieutenant general in July 2017 and general in December 2019. He was recently a delegate to National People's Congress.
Though theoritically, he has no operational control; he is only responsible for the training, equipment and manpower of the GF in the WTC, his promotion  as as full general and commander of the ETC shows that the post of commander of the WTC’s PLAGF is a crucial one for the WTC in general and for the Indian border in particular.

Lt Gen Xu Qiling
New Commander PLAGF of the WTC
In this perspective, it is extremely surprising that the post remained ‘vacant’ for more than five months.
It is only in May that it was announced that Lt Gen Xu Qiling had taken over as the new commander of the WTC's PLAGF.
This late appointment occurred at a time when the Chinese attack across the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh and Sikkim.
Had Gen Xu been brought in to coordinate the fronts in Sikkim and Ladakh?
It is difficult to know for certain.
According to the report of the WTC’s Official WeChat account, on May 29, the WTC held a meeting of the Standing Committee of the WTC’s Party Committee “to convey the spirit of learning the third meeting of the 13th National People's Congress.”
Lt Gen Xu Qiling, the new commander of the WTC PLAGF delivered the report and the WTC PLAGF’s Political Commissar Lt Gen Xu Deqing presided over the meeting. In China, the best way to know who is where and in which position are to read functions’ announcements. According to some other sources, Lt Gen Xu would have already been in his post in April.
In 2016, the People's Liberation Army established five theaters commands as part of the military reforms dear to President Xi Jinping. Xu Qiling (then Maj Gen) became the deputy commander of the PLAGF in the Central Theater (CTC).

Lt Gen Xu Qiling
Lt Gen Xu’s Biodata
Lt Gen Xu Qiling (Chinese: 徐起零) was born in Huaiyang District, Zhoukou, Henan in July 1963.
He served in Jinan Military Region for a long time before being transferred as commander of the 83rd Group Army.
He was deputy commander of the CTC in 2016, and held that office until March 2017, when he was appointed commander of the 79th Group Army.
He rose to become commander of the ETC’s PLAGF in December 2018, replacing Lt Gen Qin Weijiang.
On December 11, 2019, he was awarded the military rank of lieutenant general by Chairman Xi.
Like Lt Gen He Weilong, he was a delegate to the 13th National People's Congress.

Lt Gen Wang Qiang (Air Force)
Gen Xu Qiling's counterpart in the Air Force is Lt Gen Wang Qiang.
He was already a full-time deputy commander of the WTC; since May 8, he is hold the post of commander of the WTC PLA Air Force (PLAAF).
He replaces Lt Gen Zhan Houxun who has retired.
Lt Gen Wang Qiang, an Air Force officer, is also a fighter pilot.
He once served as a division commander of the Air Force Aviation Division of the Jinan Military Region, and deputy chief of staff of the Air Force of the Jinan Military Region (like his boss Gen Zhao Zhonqi).
In July 2014, while in Jinan, he was promoted to the rank of Major General of the PLAAF.
Following the military reform, in January 2016, he followed General Zhao in Chengdu and was promoted deputy chief of staff of the WTC and later chief of staff of the Air Force of the WTC.
In 2018, he was promoted to full-time deputy commander of the WTC.
In December 2019, he became a lieutenant general in the PLAAF.
The WTC Air Command is located in Chengdu.
Interestingly, Lt Gen Wang Qiang visited India in 2017 on the occasion of the Aero India 2017.
The Bangalore Mirror reported: “For the first time in the history of India’s premier military aviation show, Aero India, China will make its debut in the event’s five‐day 11th edition with a confirmed five‐member team. The Chinese team – all from People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF), the Chinese Air Force – will be headed by Major General Wang Qiang. part from Maj Gen Qiang, the defence officials have confirmed the delegation comprising Senior Colonel Gao Zhikuan, Col Huang Xinyang, Lt Col Jiang Jiaji and Maj Li Yiu.”

General Zhao Zongqi
The Boss: Gen Zhao Zonqi
The WTC Commander, General Zhao Zongqi, is well-known in India for having commanded the Chinese troops during the Doklam episode.
Zhao Zongqi was born in Bin County , southern Heilongjiang Province in April 1955.
He joined the army in December 1970 and was incorporated into the 118th Regiment  40 Division of the 14th Army in the Yunnan Border Region .
During this period, Zhao Zongqi served as the squad leader, acting platoon leader, and regiment reconnaissance staff.
Later, he participated as a reconnaissance unit in the battlefield of the Sino-Vietnamese War Western Front, infiltrated 10 kilometers deep to collect intelligence, and assisted the 40th Division in the battle of Lao Cai and Ban Fei.
After the war, due to his merit, Zhao Zongqi was transferred to the Reconnaissance Division of the 40th Division. In the following two mountain battles , Zhao Zongqi led the team to support the 31st division of the 14th army and participated in the Yinshan battle.
In 2016, [then] Lt Gen Zhao Zongqi was transferred from Jinan Military Region (where he was the commander) to Chengdu (Sichuan), the WTC Headquarter; he became the first commander of the WTC.
Perhaps more importantly, General Zhao Zonqi served 20 years in the Tibet Military District (TMD). He knows every inch and corner of the Indian border, at least of the TMD, which includes the trijunction Bhutan-India-Tibet where the Doklam standoff took place; he is also probably aware of every inch of the frontier in Northern Sikkim (under Kampa Dzong district), particularly in the Naku La area which witnessed serious fist-fights between Indian and Chinese troops in April/May.
Zhao’s great knowledge of the border was an important factor when Beijing decided to open the Doklam front in 2017.
According to a Chinese website: "
In April 1992, Zhao Zongqi was transferred to the commander of the 52nd Mountain Infantry Brigade in the Tibet Military Region (District). The 52nd Brigade was also one of the first brigades of the PLA undertaking reforms. Until 2003, Zongqi Zhao had been stationed in Tibet to work with the 52nd  Brigade. During this period, he insisted on strengthening the construction of Tibetan border posts, advocated large-scale military training in the army, and continuously improved the combat readiness of 52nd Brigade. In 1998, Zhao Zongqi was promoted to deputy chief of staff of the Tibet Military Region and soon became the chief of staff. In July 2001, he was promoted to the rank of major general from the rank of deputy military officer.
The 2016 restructuring of the PLA had an interesting feature, the former Military Regions (MRs) of Chengdu and Lanzhou were regrouped which means the entire Indian border thereafter came under one single command and not two as before.
One can see that the present operations in Ladakh or in Sikkim (and in Arunachal if necessary) can be synchronized under one command (under General Zhao Zongqi); it is a formidable advantage.
The brigadisation of the PLA is another advantage which makes the actions of the Chinese Army more flexible and responsive to new and complicated situations.
The WTC has two Military Districts dealing with India, the Tibet Military District and the Xinjiang Military District (XMD).

General Wu Shezhou
The Jinan Clique?
Where was Gen Zhao Zongqi before taking over the WTC?
From 2012 to 2016, he was commanding the Jinan Military Region (JMR).
The big shots of the WTC have served with him him in JMR.
We have mentioned Lt Gen Xu Qiling, but also is counterpart in the Air Force is Lt Gen Wang Qiang who served as a division commander of the Air Force Aviation Division of the Jinan Military Region, and deputy chief of staff of the Air Force.
It is also the case of No 2 in the WTC (practically equal to Zhao Zongqi), General Wu Shezhou, the WTC Polital Commissar.
He  was born in Hanchuan, Hubei Province in 1958, and served in the Guangzhou Military Region for most of his career.
He was Deputy Director of the Political Department of the Guangzhou MR until late 2012, when we was appointed Political Commissar of the Joint Logistics Department of the Guangzhou MR.
But in late 2014, he was transferred to the Jinan Military Region to serve as its Director of the Political Department.
In January 2017 Wu was promoted to WTC's Political Commissar, replacing General Zhu Fuxi.
The move was said to be unusual because of his age. At the time of his appointment Wu was the youngest of the ten top officers of China's five Theater Commands.
In October 2017, he was elected as a member of the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and in May this year, he was a delegate to the NPC.
There is clearly a Jinan Clique on the frontiers of India.

Lt Gen Wang Haijiang

Another New Commander
Lt Gen Xu Yong who has been commanding the TMD for the past seven years, seems to have retired since a few months.
Lt Gen Wang Haijiang has taken his responsibilities.
Incidentally, Wang Haijiang attended the opening ceremony of the sixth India China Joint Training Exercise, Exercise Hand-in-Hand 2016, held at the parade ground in Aundh Military Camp in Pune.
The joint exercise was held in the presence of Major General Y K Joshi, Additional Director General, Military Operations (now Army Commander Northern Command responsible for Ladakh) and Wang Haijiang.

Who is Lt Gen Wang Haijiang?
Wang Haijiang (Chinese: 汪海江) was born in Anyue County, Sichuan in July 1963.
Wang participated in the Sino-Vietnamese War (he was 16??) and won first class merit. After war, he became secretary of Li Qianyuan, former Commander of the Lanzhou Military Region.
He served in the 76th Group Army since 1997.
Wang Haijiang served as the 61st Division Commander and Deputy Commander of the Southern Xinjiang Military Region. In January 2013 he was promoted to become Deputy Commander of the Nanjiang Military District, a position he held until 2016, when he was appointed Deputy Commander of the TMD.
On December 10, 2019, he was awarded the military rank of lieutenant general by Chairman Xi.
Like Gen He Weilong and Lt Gen Xu Qiling, he recently attended as a delegate the 13th National People's Congress in Beijing.
However, Lt Gen Xu Yong’s colleague and commander of the XMD, Lt Gen Liu Wanglong was not seen anywhere.

With [then] Maj Gen Joshi in Pune
Member of the TAR Standing Committee
On January 6, the newly promoted lieutenant general Wang Haijiang attended the Standing Committee of the Tibetan Autonomous Region.
According to the Tibet Daily, the Third Session of the 11th CPPCC National Committee of the Tibet Autonomous Region took place in Lhasa.
A Standing Committee meeting, headed by Wu Yingjie with Lobsang Gyaltsen, Che Dala, Ding Yexian and Wang Haijiang in attendance, was held.
Wang Haijiang was seated solemnly between Deputy Secretary of the Party Committee of TAR and Executive Vice Chairman of the Government, and He Wenhao, another member of the TAR Standing Committee and Secretary of the Political and Legal Committee.
It has to be noted that the Commander of the TMD is only ranked No 6 in the Communist hierarchy of the Tibet Autonomous Region or TAR (after the party Secretary and the four Deputy Secretaries). This explains that the TMD Commander do not always attend the meetings of the Standing Committee.
On January 3, the TAR's Standing Committee of the People’s Congress had issued an announcement that Lt Gen Xu Yong had been transferred from Tibet.
In March 2018, Wang Haijiang who had earlier served as deputy commander of the TMD declared: "For individuals, struggling is a ladder to achieve their own growth; for the country, struggling is the driving force for development. I graduated from the college entrance examination in 1977; [I belong to] one of the first batches of students who took part in the college entrance examination to enter the military academy. Shortly after my graduation, I participated in the border self-defense counterattack operation, led officers and soldiers to the frontier position for reconnaissance many times, and won first-class merits for the bravery of the battle. I have witnessed that many comrades-in-arms have worked hard under the [PLA’s] organization and training, and they have contributed their due strength to the development of the PLA."
He further stated: "The military experience of the past 40 years has made me realize that the strength of the Army is closely related to the perseverance and perseverance of every officer and soldier. Practice has proved that the perseverance and dedication of each person struggling, create a happy life [for everybody] and at the same time, we realize the value and achievements of our country.”
The PLA also reported that Lt Gen Wang Haijiang had been squatting for 10 months on the frontier defense line at an altitude of more than 4,000 meters in 2017, leading officers and soldiers to build the Panshan Road in extreme weather and contribute to the construction of a border well-off village.
It looks like that there is a lot of ‘happenings’ in the WTC.
This did not stop the Chinese troops to cross the LAC and enter the Indian territory and use a level of violence rarely seen before.

During Zhurihe’s military parade in Inner Mongolia
Maj Gen Liu Lin
Maj Gen Lui Lin who met the 14 Corps Commander is commanding the Southern XMD (SXMD). He was earlier Chief of Staff of the SXMD, which exercises front-line responsibility and jurisdiction over the Hotan and Ngari Military Sub-Districts (Ladakh comes under Hotan Military Sub District).
On April 10, 1987, the Central Military Commission had established the ‘Southern Military Command of the Chinese People's Liberation Army’ under the Xinjiang Military District. The SXMD itself is based in Kashgar.
On November 4, 2016, it was announced that the role of the SXMD was to be “stationed on the northwestern border of the motherland, guarding more than 900,000 square kilometers of the territory of the People’s Republic as well as the borderline of more than 3,500 kilometers.”
Li Lin was promoted to the rank of Major General in January 2015 and was transferred to the Deputy Commander of the SXMD the same year.Last year, the PLA media revealed that Major General Liu Lin had been promoted to commander of the South Xinjiang Military Region.

In 2017, Liu Lin had participated in the Zhurihe’s military parade in Inner Mongolia, as a leader of the self-propelled artillery team.
In an interview published in the ‘Military Report’ of the CCTV, Maj Gen Liu Lin explained: “President Xi requires that the soldiers be trained first, and the strong army first needs strong officers. The generals and the senior commanders need to be evaluated with strict and high standards. …[if this is done], we will better grasp the actual combat training of the troops.”
Liu Lin earlier served as the Commander of the XMD’s 8th Infantry Division.
In an interview, Liu Lin said being “a good team leader, it's not enough to stand at the top of the line, and more importantly, we must set up first-class standards.”

Maj Gen Liu Geping with his family in Ngari
Maj Gen Liu Geping
The case of Maj Gen Liu Geping is interesting.
It is said that Gen Liu is half Tibetan; it is not clear which one of his parents was Tibetan. But for official purpose, he is listed as a ‘Han’, it is safer for promotion.
For decades, Liu served in the South Xinjiang Military District.
He was commanding the Chinese forces during the major intrusions in April 2013 in the Depsang Plains just before Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s visit to India and in September 2014 in Chumar in Ladakh as President Xi Jinping arrived in Delhi/Ahmedabad.
At that time, Major General Li Haiyang was the commander of the SXMD.
Then a Senior Colonel, Liu Geping was commanding the Ngari (Ali) SMD, he was responsible for areas such as Chushul, Pangong tso, Demchok, Chumar and Shipkila Pass.
A Chinese website mentioned: “In early September 2014, Liu Geping received an order to force the troops to go to a certain area in the No. 6 area and perform a training exercise called ‘Operation Hurricane’."
It refers to the intrusions in Chumar sector in Ladakh.
An article describes thus the operation: “the task force, after receiving specific instructions while traveling, arranged forward the tasks of each detachment while advancing quickly. The zipper area was at a long distance, high altitude, low temperature, poor road conditions, and belongs to the no man's land area. In the course of the operation, it strictly required the actual combat conditions and took 375 hours.”
The operation was on Indian territory.
In 2015 , I mentioned on this blog, the 'coincidence' of the intrusions in Burtse in Ladakh sector.
Gen General Zhang Yang and then Senior Colonel Liu Geping were the main actors.

In July 2017, Liu was promoted to major general and transferred to Xinjiang as Commander of the Military Department of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps. The responsibility of this Department was the recruitment, training, deployment and overall management of all militia units in Xinjiang, including guarding the Uighur ‘reform’ camps.
Recently, Liu Geping has taken over as commander of the Qinghai Military District.
An article in says that “he worked in hard and remote areas for a long time, successively served as the commander of the division of the Ngari Army. also commented: “Provincial military commander adjustment continued.”
Maj Gen Liu Geping with Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps
On May 8, the WeChat public account of the Qinghai Provincial National Defense Education Office published the "Survey of Commander Liu Geping from the Provincial Military Region to the Haibei Army Division Inspection and Investigation". The article revealed that the provincial military commander Liu Geping went to Haibei for a two-day investigation and investigation. This was Liu Geping's first appearance after taking his new posting.
In a speech, Liu Geping urged the PLA to follow “Xi Jinping's thoughts of socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era as the guide, study and implement Xi Jinping's strong military thought in depth, use military training to prepare officers and soldiers, use scientific methods to guide officers and soldiers, use laws and regulations to standardize officers and soldiers, and constantly harmonize and harmonize the interior relationship.”
He knows his lesson well.

Maj Gen Qu Xinyong in Qinghai
Maj Gen Qu Xinyong
Maj Gen Liu Geping recently replaced Maj Gen Qu Xinyong as the commander of the Sichuan Military District (SMD); the new SMD commander was seen for the first time in his new post on April 21, when the Sichuan Provincial Party Committee and Provincial Government held the Sichuan Science and Technology Award Conference in Chengdu; Qu Xinyong participated as the commander of the Sichuan Military Region.
A Chinese website said: “Qu Xinyong made a special trip to the Deng Xiaoping Bronze Statue Square to present a flower basket and to bow. He also visited the exhibition hall of Deng Xiaoping's former residence, admiring the former residence of Comrade Deng Xiaoping, and remembering the immortal merits of Comrade Deng Xiaoping for China's revolution, construction, and reform.”

Maj Gen Qu Xinyong
Qu Xinyong Biodata
He was born in May 1961 in Yantai, Shandong.
He joined the Army in 1978 and the Communist Party in September 1981; later served in the 31st Division of the 11th Army and the 31st Division of the 14th Army.
In 2002, he was the head of the 93rd Regiment of the 31st Division of the 14th Army.
Later, he became the Chief of Staff of the same Division.
During the period March-August 2006, he attended the Advanced Training Course for Military Command of the the Russian Federation Armed Services Synthesis Academy in Russia.
In 2010, Qu Xinyong returned to the 31st Division of the 14th Army as the division commander.
In 2013, he was transferred to the Chief of Staff of the Yunnan Provincial Military Region and the deputy commander of the military region the following year.
In March 2017, Qu Xinyong was promoted commander of the Qinghai Provincial Military District (QMD) and de facto included in the Standing Committee of the Qinghai Provincial Party Committee. He then replaced Maj Gen Jiang Yongshen.
Now he has been replaced by Maj Gen Liu Geping.

Lt Gen Liu Wanglong
Lt Gen Liu Wanlong
Liu Wanglong was born in July 1962 in Dongchangfu District, Liaocheng City, Shandong Province.
In February 2008, Liu Wanlong was appointed as the commander of the Ngari (Ali) MD of the XMD, facing Northern India.
In 2011, he was transferred and appointed deputy commander of the South Xinjiang Military district (SXMD).
In 2013, he was posted as the Minister of the Military Department of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps.
Note that Maj Gen Liu Geping, cited above, had a similar career trajectory, though the latter is a few years junior.
On March 17, 2014, Liu was transferred to the Gansu MD; the ‘adjustment’ order of the leadership of the Gansu MD was announced during a meeting.
It was the time when the heads started rolling in the PLA; ultimately between one and two hundreds major generals and above would be ‘investigated’ and would loose their job.
‘Adjustment’ became a routine in the senior ranks of the PLA.
In June 2016, the political commissar of the Lanzhou MD, Maj Gen Li Changcai said that the CMC had appointed Liu Wanlong as the commander of the Gansu MD, in place of Chen Zhishu; Liu Wanlong would also served as a member of the Standing Committee of the CPC Gansu Provincial Committee.
In January 2017, he was transferred to the Xinjiang MD as its commander.
In Urumqi (XMD), he replaced Lt Gen Peng Yong who has been several times mentioned on this blog.

Gen Liu patrolling the border
In December 2012 Liu had been promoted to the rank of major general and in July 2018, to the rank of lieutenant general.
According to a press release of the Embassy of India in Beijing, during the official visit to China, of Lt Gen Ranbir Singh, Army Commander, Northern Command (between January 7 and 10, 2020), the Indian delegation had meetings at Beijing, Chengdu and Urumqi.
On 8 January 2020, Gen Ranbir visited Chengdu and met General Zhao Zongqi, commander of the WTC (see above). The next day, the delegation flew to Urumqi and met Lt Gen Liu Wanlong.
Since then Gen Liu has not been seen in public.
He did not attend the recently-held National People’s Congress in Beijing while his counterpart for the TMD, Lt Gen Wang Haijiang was attendance; so was Gen Zhao Zongqi; Gen Liu Wanglong was not even listed as one of the 269-PLA delegates.
Was he indisposed or busy preparing the operations in Ladakh?
Lt Gen Liu Wanglong is still listed as a member of the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China.

('District' is sometimes translated as 'Region')