PLA border troops fortified

By Shan Jie and Huang Jingjing Source:Global Times Published: 2017/7/31 23:43:39 Last Updated: 2017/8/1 7:40:04

Defense crucial ‘in areas near NK, India, other hotspots’

A military parade is held to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) at Zhurihe training base in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, July 30, 2017. Chinese President Xi Jinping, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, will inspect the troops and deliver an important speech. (Xinhua/Zha Chunming) 

Even in peacetime, China's border troops are tasked with protecting the country's sovereignty and security under some of the most challenging conditions.

Unlike many other countries such as the US, China shares a border with 14 countries with different political orientations, Xu Guangyu, a retired rear admiral and a senior adviser to the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association, told the Global Times on Monday.

With a border stretching more than 22,000 kilometers and a coastline of more than 18,000 kilometers, China is one of the countries with the largest number of neighbors and the longest land borders, according to a national defense white paper released by the State Council Information Office of China in 2013.

Border defense troops were set up in 1949 when the People's Republic of China was founded. Since some regions in the country were not liberated at the time, the main border forces were located in Northeast China, North China, and the southeast seashore opposite Taiwan, Xu noted.

The border is mainly defended today by border security forces of the People's Armed Police Force, together with local PLA troops, stationed at border posts and remote islands, Xu said.

"Border defenses have been fortified along China's border with North Korea, Mongolia, India, as well as in the Nansha Islands and the border area of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, which is threatened by the three forces of evil - separatism, extremism and terrorism," Xu noted.

China has signed border cooperation agreements with seven countries, and established mechanisms with 12 countries for border defense talks and meetings, according to the white paper.

The PLA's border and coastal defense forces promote friendly cooperation in joint patrols, guard duties and joint control-management drills with those from Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and Vietnam.

They also organize annual reciprocal inspections to supervise and verify the implementation of confidence-building measures in border areas with Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan, the white paper said.

"Besides maintaining regular entry and exit work, border defense troops are also required to crack down on international crimes like terrorism and illegal drugs trade," Xu noted.

Arduous task

China's armed forces defend China's land borders and maritime areas, and the task of safeguarding border and coastal security is arduous and complicated, the white paper said.

"The border troops are working and living under very tough conditions. For instance, in the southern border, troops have to stay in jungles and mountains, and those stationed in the highlands of western China have to endure extremely low temperatures," Xu noted.

"Plateaus form the border areas of the Tibet Autonomous Region. Some places we patrol are as high as 6,000 meters above sea level," an officer surnamed Xu said, who has served for 12 years in the army.

"It snows frequently in summer and in winter, with temperatures dropping to as low as -40 C," Xu said.

"Each patrol covers as much as 200 kilometers over three to four days. We eat together and stay in small clay houses or tents," he said.

"However, the living conditions of border defense troops have been improving with the increase in subsidies. The soldiers are also entertained by visiting cultural troupes," Xu added.

The border troops in the Nansha Islands in the South China Sea, more than 1,000 kilometers away from the Chinese mainland, have been stationed there for more than 30 years, the Peoples' Daily reported on Sunday.

Recent developments have led to an improvement in living conditions on the islands. These include the construction of airports, cinemas and a modern hospital, which have improved morale.

Meanwhile, an officer from the Xinjiang border defense force told the Global Times that living conditions for border troops have also improved.

"My colleagues and I readily go to work in the tough environment, because we take pride in guarding the border," Xu said, adding that "we live a harsh life, but we face the difficulties together."

In peacetime, China's border defense troops deserve the understanding and support of Chinese people, Xu Guangyu noted.

Posted in: MILITARY

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