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PLA Likely to Split the Western Theatre Command? May Be?

Published Jan 09, 2020
Updated Jun 12, 2020

Operating over the vast autonomous regions of Tibet and Xinjiang, PLA could envisage splitting the Western Theatre Command for viable command and control, even as the Indian Northern Command Chief is in Chengdu.

Indian Northern Army Commander Lieutenant General Ranbir Singh is on a five-day visit to China. After having visited the PLA HQ in Beijing he is now on a visit to the Western Theatre Command HQs in Chengdu.

A series of Tweets from the Northern Army official tweeter account indicated that the visit was ongoing and a highly successful interaction.

The tweet feeds state – CHINA HOSTS #ARMYCDRNC – On invite from China, #LtGenRanbirSingh, leading an Army delegation to China (close on the heels of Joint Mil Ex ‘HandInHand2019’) to exchange views with Chinese counterpart on furthering peace & cooperation in areas of mutual interest.

ARMY COMMANDER NORTHERN COMMAND LEADS MILITARY DELEGATION TO CHINA. #LtGenRanbirSingh, #ArmyCdrNC interacted with #GenHanWeiguo, Commander PLA Ground Force; exchanged views on measures to further enhance peace & tranquility along the borders.

On visit to the Western Theatre Command the tweet states


#LtGenRanbirSingh visited PLAs WTC; was accorded the ceremonial #GuardOfHonour; interacted with #LtGenRongGuiqing, #COSWTC & #GenZhaoZongqi, #CdrWTC; discussed issues of joint training & furthering peace at borders.

Meanwhile translation of a Weibo post denotes that China PLA is considering splitting of the Western Theatre Command.

The translated post reads –

The 5 existing Theatre Commands (War Zones) i.e. the Eastern, Southern, Western, Northern and Central Theatre Command expanded to 7 Theatre Commands namely, Eastern, Southern, Southwest, Northwest, Northern, Central Plains and Central China. 

Among them, the Western Theatre Command (War Zone) is said to be split into Northwest and Southwest Theatre Commands.

The Central Theatre Command (War Zone) is split into Central China and Central Plains Theatre Commands.

New Theatre chiefs have reportedly been appointed for at least four of the theatre commands.

The Western Theatre Command is regarded as a vast area covering the Xinjiang and the Tibet Autonomous Region separated by the Aksai Chin Plateau.

More over there is limited operational congruence between the two geographically separated autonomous zones of Xinjiang and Tibet.

Thus it is not surprising that such a change may be in the offing, even though no official Chinese media source has given any input?