Grand display at Asia's largest military training base

Soldiers of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) raise a Chinese national flag during the military parade at Zhurihe military training base in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, on July 30, 2017.
Soldiers of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) raise a Chinese national flag during the military parade at Zhurihe military training base in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, on July 30, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

China's leadership yesterday opted for realism over pomp when it chose Zhurihe Training Base as the parade grounds over the usual locations such as Tiananmen Square in Beijing. Here are some facts about Asia's largest military training base.

• Located in a remote part of north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region 400km from Beijing, the training base covers about 1,000 sq km.

• The base consists mainly of desert, grasslands and hills, and has been used by the People's Liberation Army for war games for 60 years. Today, it is used mainly for large-scale, division-level combined tactical training simulations, such as the annual Stride combat exercises.

• In 2015, controversy struck when satellite images surfaced showing what looked like a replica of Taiwan's Presidential Office Building, and later of a city grid resembling part of downtown Taipei, suggesting that Taipei was used for mock urban combat training.

• Other man-made features in Zhurihe include a 100m-tall structure that closely resembles the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and a 1.2km-long dummy airstrip.

• In 2014, the base hosted Peace Mission 2014, a six-day multinational anti-terrorism drill. Some 7,000 ground, air and special forces troops from China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan took part in drills to deter terrorism, separatism and extremism.

Lim Yan Liang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 31, 2017, with the headline 'Grand display at Asia's largest military training base'. Print Edition | Subscribe