• The 24-hour drill was held on "a snowy plateau" in Tibet 
  • The commander led the troops through a "poisoned zone"
  • PLA released photos of soldiers wearing gas masks

Amid heightened border tensions between China and India, the People's Liberation Army (PLA) has conducted a "real combat drill" involving anti-nuclear, chemical and biological warfare in Tibet.

The 24-hour drill, held on "a snowy plateau," involved commandos and armored assault groups, reported Delhi-based Hindustan Times.

The drill, held in late November, was organized by the Tibet military region under the Western Theatre Command (WTC). The WTC is the largest of China's five commands and is deployed at the disputed and ill-defined 3,440-km China-India border.

Interestingly, the news of the drill was first published by the official news portal of PLA on Tuesday, though China rarely mentions drills that involve "non-conventional weapons." While the PLA report briefed about the nature of the drill, it did not mention where exactly was it held.

"A joint military brigade under the Tibet military area command held a real-combat drill on a snowy plateau in late November," the article said.

The PLA said the drill involved launching rockets and deploying armored assault groups. Army engineers were also called in to install explosives on the targeted "obstacle," the report said.

The drill had third battalion commander Li Qunfeng leading the troops through the poisoned zone while wearing gas masks, before reporting the situation back to command. A chemical defense detachment was then ordered to decontaminate the area.

"The drill closely focused on the ‘enemy’ situation, focusing on key and difficult subjects such as day and night maneuvering and multi-arms coordination, and tempered the firepower attack capability of the troops in complex environments," the report added.

The PLA article also carried photos of soldiers wearing gas masks.

This comes as the US Department of Defense accused China of conducting secret research involving dual-use chemical and biological technology.

"The PRC has engaged in biological activities with potential dual-use applications, which raise concerns regarding its compliance with the Biological and Toxins Weapons Convention (BWC) and the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC),” the report said.

The US report said studies conducted at PRC [People’s Republic of China] military medical institutions discussed identifying, testing and characterizing diverse families of potent toxins with dual-use applications.

Border tensions between China and India worsened over the last year, with both countries amassing troops on the line of control besides a heavy cache of advanced weaponry. The heightened tension saw skirmishes between both countries multiple times over the year including in June that saw deaths at both sides.

The two nations are also competing to build infrastructure along the border. Though several military-level talks were held, the situation remains unchanged.

India and China have poured tens of thousands of troops and heavy weaponry into the tension zone in the Ladakh region since pitched battles in June
India and China have poured tens of thousands of troops and heavy weaponry into the tension zone in the Ladakh region since pitched battles in June AFP / Tauseef MUSTAFA