The PLA’s western theatre command (WAC) has begun to deploy the newly built precision “spatial datum” system covering China’s western borders, which will help in building both combat capability and infrastructure.
Spatial or geological datum is defined as a set of reference points on the earth’s surface, which will contain information about a specific geographic location on the earth’s surface.
It wasn’t immediately clear how much the new map system could impact the protracted border negotiations between India and China by bolstering Beijing’s disputed claims – dismissed by New Delhi – on the 3,488 km-long LAC.
However, it is clear that the new system is expected to give the PLA personnel deployed along the LAC precise information about vertical elevation and/or depth and horizontal distance in terms of latitude and longitude of the mountainous and treacherous terrain that divides India and China.
It will help the PLA to better navigate both its troops and military equipment.
“The panoramic spatial datum is like a multifunctional, highly accurate ruler that can indicate the coordinates of remote sensing images and other geographic data. We can evaluate the data that can reach centimetre-level accuracy,” Wang Yanbin, deputy leader of PLA’s navigation and mapping unit, which was in charge of the project, said in a report by national broadcaster, China Central Television (CCTV).
A navigation and mapping unit affiliated with the PLA’s WAC traversed over 20,000 km, used drones, panoramic cameras and customised vehicles for geographical mapping to complete the project in two years, the CCTV report added.
The new system will enable the Chinese military to monitor the entire western border region at all times through remote sensing satellites.
Besides providing support for disaster relief, infrastructure construction, spatial planning and economic development, the system has military significance.
“I will contribute to the tactical and strategic judgment of commanders and soldiers with better situational awareness, and provide geographic data for weapons systems,” state-backed nationalist tabloid Global Times said in a report citing Chinese military analysts.
The new 3D mapping system can avoid the lack of navigational data and provide support to the deployment and maneuvering of troops. It can also offer data to high-precision guided weapons in attack missions, Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert said.
The relationship between India and China has been “profoundly disturbed” by the first incident of bloodshed along the LAC in 45 years, which had a “huge impact” on public opinion, external affairs minister S Jaishankar said on Tuesday.