A Hong Kong-based English newspaper has quoted Chinese military sources to claim that China has withdrawn 10,000 troops from its “disputed border with India” as Beijing calculated that the chances of conflict in winter are slim.
According to the newspaper, all the troops were pulled back in military vehicles so that the Indian side could see and verify. The withdrawal, as per the South China Morning Post report, involved troops temporarily deployed from units in the Xinjiang and Tibet military regions.
The Indian Army has also confirmed withdrawal of People’s Liberation Army (PLA) training units 1000 kilometres to 500 kilometres from the vast Tibetan plateau without giving out any numbers. The Army, however, says that there is no withdrawal from the friction points in East Ladakh with both armies locked in a stand-off since May 5, 2020.
While there is no way to verify the claims of the Chinese newspaper independently, movement of 10,000 troops or three brigades or one division in military parlance cannot be missed either by satellite imagery or by communication intercepts.
The troops will have to be withdrawn either by vehicles or sent back to their barracks by transport aircraft. As the Tibetan plateau is more than two million square kilometres and is largely treeless, there would be photographic evidence of the activity.
Either way, the withdrawal would largely be part of the feel-good factor since the PLA, with metalled roads to the last post and advanced landing grounds all along the 3,488 kilometre Line of Actual Control (LAC), has the capacity to fully deploy within a week.