China back at Doklam, but they haven’t crossed Torsa Nullah

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The Hush Post: Chinese army is at Doklam again but there is little to worry.  The Indian army has attributed this to rotation of troops and winter stocking than a desire by China to strengthen its presence in a region. The two armies saw a major stand-off of more than two months last year.

The Chinese haven’t made any attempt to cross the Torsa nullah which bisects the 100 sq km plateau near the tri-junction of India, China, and Bhutan. They added that there had been no change in the ground situation.

The PLA, the Indian army (out of Doklam, or Doka La) and the Royal Bhutanese Army (at Chela Post) are at their posts for winter. When there’s a changeover for troops, the strength at the posts are doubled temporarily as outgoing troops brief their new counterparts who replace them.

The army officers cited above added that, specifically, the PLA battalion guarding the Batang La-Meru La-Sincha La axis, which is part of the Doklam plateau, is being rotated with supporting logistics activity.

“As in the past year, the PLA plans to stay put in Doklam area this winter; the other two armies (India and Bhutan) are also stocking up for normal heavy snows in this mountainous region,” said one of the officers.

The PLA has around 700 troopers in the Doklam area with a back-up of heavy vehicles and large prefabricated barracks.

The Torsa Nullah, which meets Amu Chu in Chinese territory, divides the plateau in such a way that 60 per cent is under Chinese control and the remaining with India.

Contrary to the reports, the PLA has no surface-to-air missiles or S-300 systems placed in the area as they would be sitting ducks in times of hostility with the Indian Army sitting on the dominating heights of Doklam plateau, the officers said. The only surface-to-air missiles Chinese have are stationed deep within Chinese territory, in Yadong, the officers added. The Royal Bhutan Army also has a significant number of troopers at Chela Post to monitor Chinese movement despite Beijing putting pressure on Thimpu to resolve the border dispute between the two countries.

Although the Chinese PLA had been sending patrols to meet Bhutanese troops after crossing the Torsa Nullah gorge on Doklam since the previous decade, the 2017 stand-off occurred as the PLA tried to carve out a road to reach Jhampheri ridge at the point close to Indian positions in Doklam and where the Torsa Nullah was crossable on all-terrain military vehicles.

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