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Chinese military equips troops in Tibet with mobile howitzers: report

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Beijing: After the recent induction of light-weight battle tank in Tibet bordering India, the Chinese military has equipped its troops stationed at the Himalayan plateau with new vehicle-mounted howitzers to improve their combat capability, official media in Beijing reported.

China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) stationed in Tibet Autonomous Region has been equipped with mobile howitzers which aims to boost the troops’ high-altitude combat capability to improve border security, state-run Global Times reported.

It quoted Chinese military analysts as saying that the new equipment would be the PLC-181 vehicle mounted howitzer. The announcement was made in an article released by the WeChat account of the PLA Ground Force on Saturday, the report said.

 

The equipment was used in an artillery brigade in Tibet during the 2017 China-India stand-off at Doklam, it said.

Song Zhongping, a military expert and TV commentator, told Global Times that the howitzer has 52-caliber cannon with a range of over 50 kms and shoots laser-guided and satellite-guided projectiles. It will boost the high-altitude combat capability of the PLA in Tibet, Song said.

The induction of the mobile howitzers followed the move by the PLA to put into service the light weight battle tank, which was tested by its military during exercises in Tibet held at the peak of the Doklam standoff.

The Type 15 has an engine capable of 1,000 horsepower and is significantly lighter than the PLA’s other main battle tanks in service, weighing about 32 to 35 tonnes. The tank meant for rugged and mountainous terrain of the Himalayan region.

The induction of the tank and the mobile howitzers highlighted the PLA’s efforts to reinforce its troops with new equipment despite steady normalisation of military relations since last year.

As part of the military training in 2019, an artillery brigade in the Tibet Military Command ordered soldiers to take part in a military skills competition at a training ground on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau 3,700 meters above sea level, the report said.

Last week, President Xi Jinping, who also heads the military, ordered the armed forces to enhance their combat readiness to make sure they are always ready for battle, saying risks and challenges for China are on the rise.

China’s border issue has not been completely resolved, and was challenged by pro-Tibet independence forces and terrorists, the report quoted analyst as saying.

Zhao Gancheng, director of the Centre for Asia-Pacific Studies at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies, told the daily that the military investment in Tibet has been rising, but is primarily meant for defence and not to provoke conflict with neighbouring countries.

He said the PLA troops stationed in Tibet need to improve their combat capabilities in plateau areas and strengthen their willpower in extreme weather as they are primarily responsible for the border defence against terrorists and foreign invaders, he said.

To cope with altitude sickness, the PLA built oxygen stations for the soldiers in Tibet in 2015, which were used for medical purposes, but are now also being used in regularly training.


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International

26 killed as tour bus catches fire in China

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Beijing: A tour bus caught fire in central China’s Hunan Province killing 26 people, local authorities said. The 28 injured in the incident were rushed to three local hospitals for treatment. Among them the condition of five were state to be critical, state-run Xinhua news agency quoted local officials as saying.

The accident occurred around when the 59-seater bus from neighbouring Henan province suddenly caught fire on a highway in Hanshou County in the city of Changde.

The bus had 53 passengers, two drivers and a tour guide at the time of the incident.

 

The two drivers were detained and an investigation into the cause of the accident is underway.

The incident came a day after 64 people lost their lives while 640 were injured in a powerful explosion at a chemical plant in eastern China. The blast occurred on Thursday following a fire in a fertilizer factory in a chemical industrial park in Yancheng, Jiangsu province, according to the government of Xiangshui county.

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International

New Zealand bans Christchurch terrorist’s manifesto

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Wellington: New Zealand has banned the possession and distribution of a manifesto believed to be written by the lone terrorist who carried out the March 15 Christchurch mosques carnage where 50 people were killed, officials said on Saturday.

The Office of Film and Literature Classification announced that the document is objectionable under the law, reports CNN.

The so-called “manifesto” of Brenton Tarrant, the 28-year-old Australian charged with the massacre, spans more than 80 pages and is filled with anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim rants.

 

“There is an important distinction to be made between ‘hate speech,’ which may be rejected by many right-thinking people, but which is legal to express, and this type of publication, which is deliberately constructed to inspire further murder and terrorism,” said New Zealand’s Chief Censor David Shanks. “It crosses the line.”

The document was posted on social media and was sent to the office of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern just before the shooting began.

On Thursday, Shanks called on the public to delete any copies, as well as online posts or links to the document.

People can also report any social media posts, links or websites.

“New Zealanders can all play a part in denying those who exhort hatred, killing and terror,” Shanks said.

“Do not support the murderous objectives of its author by republishing or distributing it.”

Earlier this week, authorities banned footage of the fatal shootings, including edited clips and still images.

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Death toll climbs to 64 in one of China’s worst industrial blasts in years

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Beijing: The death toll climbed to 64 in one of the worst industrial accidents of China in recent times which knocked down buildings, tossed children into air and caused a tremor equivalent to a magnitude-3.0 earthquake, officials said Saturday. The officials said that 24 others were missing.

The explosion occurred after a fire in the fertilizer factory in Jiangsu province on Thursday, according to the government of Xiangshui county. Thirty-four people were in a critical condition and 73 seriously injured, state-run China Daily reported. The death toll is expected to rise as several people have been critically injured.

Over 640 people were injured in the incident. More than 3,000 workers and around 1,000 residents have been relocated to safe places. The Ministry of Emergency Management said that 88 people were rescued from the scene.

 

Such is the scale of the devastation that the entire industrial park in the Yancheng resembled an area struck by a massive earthquake with almost all buildings demolished in one go.

It is the worst industrial accident since the massive explosion rocked the port area of Tianjin in 2015 in which 173 people were killed. The China earthquake centre reported an earthquake of 3.0 magnitude during the time of the blast. An aerial video posted by China Daily which provided the first detailed view of the area showed shocking images of the blast which has destroyed the entire neighbourhood, causing an extensive damage showcasing the destructive side of China’s unbridled industrial development.

Jiangsu Tianjiayi Chemical plant, where the blast took place, was flattened and 16 neighbouring factories were left with varying degrees of damage. The impact smashed windows and uprooted roofs of some buildings and reduced others to rubble. Officials claimed that the rivers outside the chemical industrial park were not polluted.

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