China has come to face a real-time crisis in its Western Theatre Command (WTC), which is tasked with managing China’s occupied Xinjiang and Tibet provinces, apart from also dealing with India, and most recently, adapting to the rise of a Taliban regime in Afghanistan. Geographically, China’s Western Theatre Command is in charge of the vastest area and is simply overburdened. Chinese soldiers are wimps, little emperors and sissies. TFI has been at the forefront of exposing Chinese soldiers for what they are. So, when these soldiers and their bosses are told to fight multiple battles in Xinjiang, Tibet and against India all at the same time, revolts are expected to blossom.
Given the fact that with the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan, the Western Theatre Command of China will also be tasked with the job of ensuring that there are no spill-over effects in Xinjiang province, and the PLA troops are growing increasingly disgruntled with Beijing in Western China. It is almost as if Xi Jinping is tasking them with jobs which they are simply incapable of completing. Owing to the same, Jinping has been forced to change four Chinese PLA generals commanding the WTC in the past year, and this shows just how pervasive the anti-Beijing sentiment in the Western Theatre Command of the PLA is.
New General Incoming
Xi Jinping has appointed Gen Wang Haijiang as the new Commander of the People’s Liberation Army’s Western Theatre Command. Gen Wang is the fourth commander to head the Western Theatre Command after the eastern Ladakh standoff began in May last year. Most recently, in July this year, Xi Jinping had appointed Gen Xu Qiling to head the PLA’s Western Theatre Command. Now that he has been replaced by Wang Haijiang, while still having six years of active service remaining, what role General Xu has been given remains unclear, if, at all, he has been given one.
Intriguingly, there is still no clarity on where Xu Qiling’s predecessor, Lt Gen Zhang Xudong was sent to. Gen Zhang had replaced General Zhao Zongqi in December 2020. Gen Zhao was at the helm of affairs since the formation of the Western Theatre Command until his retirement. Why is the WTC witnessing such haphazard rejigs? Are the PLA troops rising in revolt? Are they underperforming? Is China losing its grip on Tibet and Xinjiang? We think Beijing is rattled since all of this is happening at the same time, even as India breathes fire down the paper dragon’s throat.
The Afghanistan Conundrum
China has gone all out in its support for the Taliban. This has given rise to a deep sense of insecurity among the ordinary Chinese populace, who view their country’s embracement of an Islamist terror organisation as deeply problematic. The same is the case with the Chinese troops in the Western Theatre Command. They feel that their country is embracing violent Islamists while tormenting innocent Uighur Muslims, who have been put in concentration camps which China likes to refer to as “internment centres”.
The PLA is really at the forefront of wiping Uighur culture and Islamic faith out of Xinjiang. They are leading Jinping’s crusade against Uighur Muslims. Yet, China is also getting in bed with the Taliban. Simultaneously, the WTC has been tasked with ensuring that the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) does not regroup under Taliban rule in Afghanistan and mount a campaign against the Chinese occupation of Xinjiang. All of this has filled the plates of Chinese troops operating under the WTC, and discontent is brewing among them.
Jinping is also trying to station PLA troops, belonging to the Western Theatre Command in a Taliban-ruled Afghanistan. But Chinese soldiers simply do not want to risk their lives for Jinping’s Talibani fascination.
India’s Unrelenting Stand in Ladakh
India, meanwhile, is doing the PLA no favours. For the past year, the Indian Army has been giving Chinese little emperors hell in Eastern Ladakh. China was forced to pull in Mixed Martial Art fighters to deal with Indian soldiers last year since its troops were simply no match for the brave Indians standing guard at the mighty Himalayas.
Essentially, the WTC is giving Xi Jinping and the Chinese Central Military Commission a tough time, which is why its commanders are being changed at an unprecedented pace.