At a time when China wants to put the border issue with India “in the proper place”, Beijing is busy building its adversarial strength to strengthen its military.
Despite the diplomatic bonhomie on display between India and China on the sidelines of last week’s G20 meeting in New Delhi, China’s nefarious preparations for a repeat of Galwan, India Today has learnt.
Though China is holding disengagement talks and presenting an approach of rapprochement over the border dispute, it is busy buying improvised hand-combat weapons similar to the ones used during the deadly Galwan clash of 2020, India Today has learnt. Experts are apprehensive that the weapons could be used on the disputed Line of Actual Control (LAC) against Indian soldiers.
China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has purchased ‘combined maces’ that belong to the category of ‘cold weapons’ that were used in the 2020 Galwan Valley clash, which claimed the lives of 20 Indian soldiers. The clash led to a military standoff with China and numerous rounds of talks on the disengagement process.
A combined mace is a mace that has been repurposed for combat by adding spikes and sharp edges.
India and China should put the boundary issue in the “proper place” in bilateral relations and work together to bring the situation at the borders “under normalised management” as soon as possible, Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang had conveyed to his Indian counterpart S Jaishankar earlier this month.
Despite the public stance that China has been taking, the Chinese army placed a tender in January this year to purchase spiked maces. The purchases were made a month later. According to information on the military procurement network, the PLA made two purchase inquiry announcements. While one was for maces, the other was for combined maces.
These spiked weapons have become a common feature at the Line of Actual Control between India and China.
According to some reports, the People’s Armed Police in Tianjin have used maces in the past to take on criminals during patrolling. PLA troopers have also been trained to use maces in combat.
Another report has highlighted that the PLA placed an order to buy 2,600 such maces.
WHAT HAS CHINA PURCHASED?
According to the purchase order, the length of the mace is around 1.8 metres. It consists of three parts – the hammer head, the rod body, and the rod drill.
The hammer head is about 50 cm, equipped with fine steel spikes and sharp corners at both ends, machined, welded and quenched to ensure strength. The rod body is made of zinc steel pipe.
The head of the long stick was covered with long thorns, and the mace looked extremely fierce, simulating a quick blow, and the mannequin snapped in half.
“Pictures of the mace and combined mace, which are weapons used for fist-fighting, are present on the PLA’s purchase website. They are indeed going to be used on the India-China border,” said Suyash Desai, an expert on Chinese foreign affairs, said.
“These weapons have been used in the past on the border, so it is certain that they will be used at the border. Agreements of the tender are designed in such a way that it suits the PLA in deterring India. Buying of such weapons shows that border problems are going to escalate,” he said.
WHAT IS THE BUZZ ON CHINESE SOCIAL MEDIA?
Some netizens expressed their fears on social media in China and speculated that the PLA would use them to deal with ordinary people, but the larger worry was skirmishes on the India-China border with the arrival of summer.
Discussions on Chinese social media were also about how fierce and effective these weapons are the insulating material they are made of.
“The PLA is developing electric shock weapons to counter the Indian Army and not for domestic purposes,” said Manoj Kewalramani, an expert on the Indo-Pacific region.
REQUIREMENTS FOR PURCHASE ORDER
Details have also emerged about the bidding for the purchase order of the weapons. There are two requirements for this purchase order. The first is that this mace has to be longer than the normal one. There is chatter on Chinese social media that these maces are used for hitting the opponent from a distance and one would still be able to protect oneself from the opponents’ weapon.
The second criterion is that the weapon has to be a combined mace and that it can be carried separately – which means that spikes can be separated from the rod if required. The Chinese social media chatter claim that the bid was made public to enable an extensive design plan to equip the soldiers with as perfect a mace as possible.
While India has been pushing for diplomacy and talks, the days ahead could be rather tough and with the onset of summer, the heat might be felt at the India-China border too.