Despite China showcasing its military might by deploying two J-20 stealth fighters 320 kilometers from Ladakh, the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) supreme Dongfeng military vehicles could well prove to be the first chink in its armor, with its substandard quality believed to be the reason behind the death of ‘innumerable’ Chinese soldiers in the Galwan Valley clash.
According to the footage of a video that recently went viral, Indian soldiers were seen attacking what looked like the Dongfeng military trucks. While the Indian Army has continued to deny the video’s links with the border standoff, reports in China more than cemented the doubts over the quality of the vehicles, with many calling these ultra military utility vehicles as ‘hollow’.
The Dongfeng Humvee is a High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV) manufactured by the nation’s top supplier of military vehicles, Dongfeng Motor Corporation.
Available in two variants, one with four wheels (4×4), weighing 6,100 kilograms, and the other with six wheels (6×6), weighing 8,000 kilograms, the turbocharged diesel-fueled engines vehicles can reach a maximum speed of 130 kilometers/hour.
The off-road vehicles boast a wide-body design and high ground clearance and are equipped with bulletproof windscreens and an armored shutter at the top, meant to be engaged in combat areas.
The vehicles, which follow the form and function of the original American Humvees, the backbone 4×4 vehicles of the United States military, are installed with mine blast-resistant seats and a steel-armored hull, offering complete protection of the soldiers from small arms fire and shell splinters.
While the standard equipment of the vehicles includes an adjustable tire pressure system and a self-recovery winch to pull itself out of debris and cave-ins, the vehicle can also be fitted with a ring mount or an open-top turret, armed with a 7.62 mm or 12.7mm machine gun.
But despite the immense firepower at its disposal, the body armor of the state of the art vehicles have been criticized for being penetrable.
One of the many critics of the Dongfeng military trucks has been a Chinese netizen by the name of Zhou Liying, who on August 03, claimed on his social network handle, that following the below-par faring of the ‘poor-quality’ trucks in the clash with its Indian neighbors, around 500 such vehicles were returned to the manufacturers by the Chinese Army.
Soon after the social media post made rounds on the internet, an official complaint was filed by Dongfeng Motor Corporation against Zhou with the local police, and he was arrested a day later and was made to issue a public apology.
As per the write-up published on the official English language military news website of the PLA, the arrest was justified on the basis of the Chinese citizen spreading “online rumors”.
“On August 3, after learning via the Internet that online-user Zhou had posted rumors on his WeChat Moments by claiming that internal corruption of the Dongfeng Company had led to the poor quality of its military vehicles, which resulted in the casualties of Chinese soldiers on the China-India border, the Dongfeng Company immediately reported to the local police and established a special working group to investigate and verify the case,” the website reported.
“At about 18:00 on August 4, Zhou was arrested by local police. He confessed to his crime of rumor-mongering, showed remorse, and wrote a sincere apology letter.”
Despite the arrest and apology, multiple reports continued to stem up on Chinese websites regarding the same, with a publication claiming that the Dongfeng Motor Group is facing disciplinary action for allegedly violating “Party discipline” and another website, Sohu.com, stating that two officials of the manufacturing company have been roped in for anti-corruptions investigations.
Dongfeng Motor Corporation has been no stranger to controversies with former Executive Director Zhu Fushou being probed under corruption charges in 2015. Fushou was the most senior executive to be drawn into the investigation for “disciplinary violations”, generally referring to corruption.
Moreover, the founder of Hong Kong tabloid-style newspaper, Apple Daily, Jimmy Lai was arrested under the sedition law with many claiming he is being punished for exposing China’s military corruption, with his tabloid having claimed in the past that substandard quality steel was utilized to build the Dongfeng Humvees.
On June 15, the military forces of India and China were involved in a deadly skirmish at the Galwan Valley along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in eastern Ladakh, as both troops fought for hours with rods and clubs, with as many as 20 Indian soldiers losing their lives. The Chinese are yet to confirm the number of casualties they suffered despite Indian press reports claiming the count to be between 30 to 45.