There have been numerous changes in the Western Theatre Command (WTC) lately by Chinese President Xi Jinping. According to a news piece published in The Hong Kong Post, five new appointments were made in the PLA including the promotion of Lt. Generals to Generals to make them Theatre Commands. This is seen to have big implications on India, and here we analyze its impact on India. The Chinese military has made numerous “aggressive” military deployments against India in the past, every single one of them following a set pattern. This time is the same, the only difference being the precision of “motives and intentions”, according to the newspaper.

The recent promotions in the Western Theatre Command (WTC) made by Xi Jinping are interesting to analyze. The first of such promotions is the new Commander of the WTC, General Wang Haijiang, who had earlier been heading Xinjiang Military District, assigned the job of looking after India. The other such promotions include General Lin Xiangyang, Commander of the Central Theatre Command and Don Jun, Commander of the PLA Navy, reported the newspaper. Interestingly, there have been four commanders of the WTC since 2020. General Wang, a veteran of the Vietnam war and a confidant of Xi Jinping is assigned the job of looking after the borders with India. General Zhao was appointed as WTC Commander in 2016 who served for four years and was succeeded by General Zhang Xudong in December 2020.  According to the news piece, he was replaced by General Xu Qiling who was appointed Commander of the Ground Forces in the rank of Lt. General from June 2020 till June 2021 and was promoted to General as he was made Commander of the WTC in June 2021.

Chinese President Xi Jinping had met the officers of the PLA in a special but restricted meeting on July 23, 2021, in Lhasa where he had complimented them for confronting the “harsh conditions”. He also asked them to prepare for “future wars”. According to the newspaper, Chinese analyst, Jayadeva Ranade noted that the designation of the officers sitting in the hall was “interesting”. He said in his observation that the ones who seated in the front row with Jinping were General Zhang Youxia, CMC Vice Chairman; General Ju Qiansheng, who had just that month been promoted and appointed PLA Strategic Support Force (SSF) Commander; General Xu Qiling, then WTC Commander; Lt. Gen. Wang Kai, Commander of the Tibet Military Region; Lt. Gen. Zhong Shaojun, Director of the CMC General Office; and Lt. Gen. Zhang Xuejie, Political Commissar of the Tibet Military Region. Calling the presence of the SSF Commander significant, the news piece said that the significance extends not only to roles like combat support, but also space, cyber and electronic warfare force of PLA.

Several high CPC dignitaries visited Tibet following the visit of Xi Jinping in July. Furthermore, Jinping had written a letter to the Unit stationing at Gangba County, Chumbi Valley and commended them for guarding the territory. Thus, the WTC is important for Xi Jinping when it comes to China’s relation with India.
The conduct of numerous military exercises by the PLA in the past two years further proves the assertion. 

According to Ranade, as many as 108 military exercises were conducted in a year between May 2019 and May 2020. Likewise, the PLA conducted 98 “major” exercises between June 2020 and June 2021. Besides, it has become easier for the troops to move as the Chinese military has created points of contact along the Line of Actual Control. “Roads leading off the main highway, today connect all the Chinese posts on the LAC from Ladakh to Arunachal Pradesh. If this is not a military threat to India, then what is?” said the opinion piece in the newspaper. With the “election” coming up in China, Xi Jinping has to have something to show as achievement in 2022. According to the newspaper, almost 66 Lt. Generals have been promoted to Generals since 2012.