Global Times and Chinese Communist Party bots must see videos of India’s recent military exercise held in eastern Ladakh in 2019

Facebook and Twitter are forbidden in mainland China, but that hasn’t stopped bots of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) from putting out videos of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) ‘exercising’ in high-altitude areas, transporting shiny tanks and armoured personnel carriers (APCs), and moving troops to Tibet.

These bots, part of the Chinese disinformation machinery which runs a massive spambot network to amplify pro-Beijing messages on Twitter and Facebook, have been put into service amid a stand-off with India in eastern Ladakh.

Intended to target opinion overseas, rather than at home, the China’s disinformation machinery seems to have a large budget and decent resources at its disposal — the videos of choreographed military sequences put out by it have better production value than such sequences in Bollywood movies, some Twitter users said sarcastically.
And as if this wasn’t enough, the Global Times, an overt propaganda tool of the CCP, has also put out videos of PLA forces moving to Tibet from eastern China.

‘What can be more believable than APCs moving in perfect lines, men with guns on their shoulders loading boxes on to trucks, and soldiers wearing helmets and sitting perfectly equidistant from each other for their journey to Tibet on a civilian aircraft,’ a Twitter user said in a sarcastic response to the video.

Some others pointed out that the Global Times and the CCP Twitter bots must see videos of India’s recent military exercise held in eastern Ladakh to understand the difference between a real exercise and outlandish propaganda.

In the second week of September 2019, Indian and Chinese troops were engaged in a stand-off at the Pangong Lake, which is also the site of the current stand-off.

Just days later, and a few weeks ahead of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit, India conducted a large-scale military exercise in the region, close to the Line of Actual Control (LAC).

This was the first time such an exercise was conducted in the region.

The rare integrated exercise in Eastern Ladakh saw the Indian military use all its big guns, from the US-built C-130 J transport aircraft to the Israel-supplied Heron unmanned aerial vehicle and Russian-origin Mi-17 V5 helicopters.

The exercise involved paratroopers being dropped from helicopters of the Army and supplies being dropped from C-130Js of the Indian Air Force.

The most striking, though, were the videos of tanks of the Indian Army kicking up dust and breathing out smoke as they moved up into firing positions.

While mechanised warfare has traditionally been associated with the plains, there are regions in Ladakh, mostly in its eastern part, where such forces can be deployed and the firepower that they bring to bear exploited.

In the event of a war, tanks will be used to defend the flat top approaches, from Tibet towards Leh, such as those near Chushul and Demchok. The flat terrain in this region, strategists say, allows the use of mechanised forces.