Amid growing tensions between India and China along the Line of Actual Control, Chinese state-run media has reported that the government of Lhasa city, the administrative capital of the Tibetan Autonomous Region, will conduct an air raid drill on September 19.
China has been holding air raid drills in major cities in September to mark the annual National Defense Education Day. However, the timing of this drill has raised many eyebrows as the last time such exercise was carried out in Lhasa was in 2009.
In the current situation of ongoing border friction between China and India, this looks like Beijing’s psychological warfare tactic to create a climate of fear among local Tibetans.
The formal statement about the air defence alarm drill was carried by all local media and many Weibo handles.
The Chinese government in Lhasa city said that the siren will be played on September 19 in three different types. The first will be played for three minutes from 12 to 12.03pm sounding for 36 seconds with a gap of 24 seconds.
The second one will be run for three minutes from 12.06 to 12.09pm sounding for six seconds with a gap of six seconds. The third alarm will be broadcast for three minutes from 12:12 to 12:15pm for the complete duration without any gap.
In a special announcement dated September 14, the Lhasa city government said the test will “improve the general public’s conception of national defense and civil air defense awareness” However, no specific explanation for the three types of alarms was provided in the media or in the announcement.
The first one is assessed to be a pre-raid siren suggesting that the population should switch off lights, the second one is for actual raid indicating that the people move to air raid shelters and the third one possibly for informing that the air raid is over and people can safely return to their routine work.
The announcement ordered all citizens, government agencies, enterprises, institutions, and social organisations personnel to pay attention to listening, distinguishing, and understanding different acoustic signals. The drill will be conducted “in accordance with the spirit of the “People’s Air Defense Law of the People’s Republic of China”.
The announcement urged the locals not to panic when they hear the air defence alarm and ensure activities proceed as normal and are not affected.
An old Chinese idiom ‘Kill the chicken to scare the monkey’ applies well in this context.