(From the Week)
By Robert Beckhusen
On most days, China’s high-speed rail network is for hauling millions — yes, millions — of commuters, vacationers, and tourists around the country.
But on May 14, one section of the growing network served a very different purpose. A People’s Liberation Army brigade from the Lanzhou military region boarded a high-speed train and set off for Xinjiang — 300 miles to the west.
The exercise was a rapid and clever way to move troops around the huge country, something which Beijing is struggling to handle. China has the largest ground army and the longest land border in the world, which abuts 14 nations … more than any other country except Russia.
One of these countries — India — is one of Beijing’s rivals and the two countries have two ongoing border disputes. Myanmar to the south — and Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan to the west — are potentially unstable. Then there’s the border with North Korea.
It all adds up to lots of potential crises along the border. The result is that Beijing wants its army to have the ability to respond to lots of varied and potential crises. Hence high-speed trains.
China’s army is starting to move fast. Read more