People’s Liberation Army – Calling the Bluff

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        So I came across THIS 2015 news report, some days ago. A piece that I found V.E.R.Y interesting. The headline is catchy enough – ‘UN peacekeepers refused to help as aid workers were raped in South Sudan’. But it is the second part of the headline that caught my eye – Chinese troops abandoned their posts rather than engage in fighting and protect civilians.

        Interesting, I thought. Did a little more digging around on the www and came across another nugget of V.E.R.Y interesting information. Will come to that in the latter part of this blog post. But first let me share some thoughts on the piece above.

Firstly let us talk about the facts listed out in the news report above:-

  • The Chinese peacekeepers were entrusted with the responsibility of a one civilian protection site in Juba.
  • In the month of July 2015, fierce attacks were mounted by one of the rebel groups in Sudan, leading to ‘tens of thousands’ of civilians seeking safety from successive bouts of fighting, at that site.
  • However, the Chinese peacekeepers stayed on in their bases rather than protect civilians. Heck, even the Ethiopian troops had done far better, helping evacuate wounded civilians and returning fire when needed.
  • On the last day of the fighting, about 80 to 100 government soldiers attacked a compound in Juba where they raped and gang-raped at least five international aid workers and physically or sexually assaulted at least a dozen others.
  • All this happened when there was a UN Base manned by Chinese peacekeepers only a few hundred metres from the compound. However despite dozens of appeals for help from the besieged aid workers and personal visits from at least one who escaped from the compound, the Chinese peacekeepers simply REFUSED to leave the safety of their base.
  • During four days of fighting between the rival forces, artillery rounds and gunfire hit two UN bases, killing two Chinese peacekeepers. And what did the vaunted PLA troopers do? They not only failed to return fire, but in fact, RAN AWAY FROM THEIR POST. To add insult to injury, in their haste to save their skins, they even left behind their weapons and ammo – something a professional soldier would not even dream of doing. EVER.

        So here is what I make of the entire issue – The PLA soldier didn’t move out of the safety of his compound, favouring his personal safety over his responsibility to his fellow human beings. To some extent (and I say this ‘coz I am not entirely aware of the rules of engagement they were bound by), this might be explained by the rules of engagement that MIGHT have prevented them from interfering in the factional fighting in the area. MIGHT have, ‘coz I am not sure it actually prevented them. More on that in the latter part of this blog. However, even the refusal to fire back in self defence, more so when two of their comrades had been fatally wounded, reeks of cowardice. And then the biggest ignominy a professional soldier can heap upon himself – they fcuking abandoned their posts and ran away. Not only that, they left behind their weapons and ammo.

        An entire post cowering behind the apparent safety of their compound walls instead of discharging their duty when humanity is being raped and murdered all around. When the compound too becomes unsafe, they emulate their Pakistani friends’ favourite battlefield tactic – they run away! And this is the bunch of (fill in the blank) with which the PRC threatens the battle hardened Indian Army today!

        Now coming to another interesting nugget I discovered when searching for more info on this incident. I came across THIS report. It was the Indian Army that saved their sorry backsides. The report itself doesn’t mention the abandonment of posts by the PLA peacekeepers. Very ‘convenient’ omission, I say.

        However, as per the report, INDBATT II, comprising of the men of 7th Battalion The Kumaon Regiment, who were held in reserve, were asked to take charge and restore the situation, which they did with extreme professionalism and ruthlessness. Here’s a typically modest way the news report chose to describe their actions – ‘It was learnt that troops also secured the perimeter which was smashed by the IDPs and ensured the armed militiamen were weeded out.’ Yes, they ‘secured’ the perimeter and ensured the armed militiamen were ‘weeded out’. Typical Indian media’s way of underselling themselves. Or perhaps, something that they are so used to from the Indian Army, that they take it as a matter of fait accompli – Send in Indian troops, job will be done.

        Btw, it was the same militiamen who had scared the hell out of the famed PLA troops and routed them that the Kumaonis calmly ‘weeded out’. Rest of the report makes for an interesting read too.

        So here it is. An Army that fought its last war in 1979, an army that has ‘won’ against an outsider only once in 5000 years of its nation’s history, in 1962, was exposed for what it was – shiny toys and scared brats afraid to wield them when time comes. (Regarding the ‘war experience’ of the PLA, that is a blog post which will come in another few weeks, btw)

        Sabre rattling in front of apparently weaker neighbours is fine, but god save you if the ‘weaker’ neighbour draws out his own sword!

(Oh, btw, the title of the photograph of PLA Peacekeepers posted on top of this blog, in The Guardian report is – Peacekeeping troops in South Sudan ‘underperformed’ during violence in July.’)

        ’nuff said!

ADDED LATER: 1 Executive Summary of the Independent Special Investigation into the violence which occurred in Juba in 2016 and UNMISS response (A very diplomatically worded report, with some tight slaps to those concerned)

(Next blog: Story of the two PLA soldiers in South Sudan and who killed them.)

19 thoughts on “People’s Liberation Army – Calling the Bluff

  1. It may be exaggeration or even be remotely connected, but I have some input based on my personal observation of these Chinese people. While I was studying in the US, I observed that many of these Chinese MEN were very timid; they wouldn’t walk in the streets after dark; they prefer to be in groups than being alone; they hardly mingle with students of other denominations, etc.

    If this Doklam standoff escalates, we should inflict heavy damages in the beginning itself so as to scare the shit out of them. Those timid Chinese would not dare pick up their weapons after that.

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  2. Only partially true. PLA was lacklusture in 1962 where my dad fought in NEFA. Our orders were to fall back time & again in NEFA. That said, PLA’s only time of excellence was in Korean war, but even in that it was PLA disregard for lives of their soldiers which was shocking.

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  3. That Chinese troops could be soft would be apparent by the fact that at Nathu La in 1992, they would do anything to obtain a ‘ ‘Tashy’. These were playing cards having Nude Models displayed on each. They would even give their Coat Parka in return. During Flag ⛳️ meetings they would concentrate more on the eats being served. During the leaner months from February to May they would beg for water that was normally available on our side of the Sikkim watershed. At times resorting to begging for a bucket or two. They would not go down to their side of the border because it had forced to lugged up to higher altitudes. They are soft and Cheekoo enough to blush before our burly troops.

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  4. […] So apparently, my previous blog on the PLA Peacekeepers running away under fire in South Sudan (LINK) gathered quite a few eyeballs, being shared on some other blogs, fora and WhatsApp too. This what […]

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  5. Sir, permit me to add from my personal experience of Chinese Army. I was a Company Commander in Arunachal Pradesh in 1986 . Chinese had intruded in Sumdro Rong area North of Tawang and we were to evict them. We observed them for a month from a distance of ten meters to one km. We noticed them to be physically weak as they could not even carry their personal belongings comfortably at the time their regular periodic induction. Especially their officers were rather weak. Their battle drills and adherance by troops was poor. Frequently we could notice all their Patrolling being done with Torch lights on. At night one could see numerous torch lights moving all over Sumdro Rong Valley. Lastly, They were rather scared at night and we could see each section and platoon post shouting and communicating with each other to boost up each others morale.
    I was back in the same area after 4 years as a Colonel commanding a Unit. I interacted with the Chinese soldiers of various ranks from close distance and interacted with them at official and unofficial level. My opinion about the Chinese troops remained same what it was 4 – 5 yeats ago. Lot of show at senior level but very little strength at ground level.

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  6. […]         However, all that huff and puff was met with a DEAFENING silence by India. So much so that a dozen page long ‘chargesheet’ let out by Beijing was met with a one line statement by the Indian MEA! Leave along kowtowing, the barbarians simply dismissed the Middle Kingdom with one sentence. Yes, ONE SENTENCE! The Dragon was now stuck riding the Tiger. It didn’t know how to get off without being devoured because, well, they are very well aware of how the PLA might fare in case bullets started to fly (People’s Liberation Army – Calling the Bluff)! […]

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