Faced with a crack team of Tibetan mountaineering specialists and banned from gunfire under an old agreement, Chinese forces allegedly turned to their secret — albeit, some would say unethical — weapon, in their Himalayan standoff.
According to international studies expert Jin Canrong, Chinese troops used a “microwave” weapon to force Indian soldiers to retreat by making them violently sick, The Times of London reported.
The electromagnetic weapon, which cooks the human tissue of enemy troops, “turned the mountain tops into a microwave oven” and made the Indian soldiers vomit, Canrong told his students in Beijing.
The weapon heats water molecules in the same way as the kitchen appliance, targeting water under the skin and causing increasing amounts of pain to the target from ranges of up to 0.6 miles away, The Times reported.
The weapons are not intended to do any lasting harm, though concerns have been raised about whether they could damage the eyes or have a carcinogenic impact.
Jin even went so far as hailing the Chinese forces for “beautifully” executing the move which cleared out Indian troops without violating a ban on gunfire along the disputed Line Of Actual Control (LAC).
There was no indication whether Jin discussed the ethical implications of using such a weapon.
According to The Times, the weapons were said to have been deployed in late August, weeks after a deadly brawl involving rocks and clubs which killed at least 20 Indian soldiers and brought the two nuclear-armed powers closer to war.
Jin told his students that within 15 minutes of the weapons being deployed, “those occupying the hilltops all began to vomit.
“They couldn’t stand up, so they fled. This was how we retook the ground,” he explained.
China’s forces decided to use the weapons because the altitude was too high to fight against a team of Tibetan mountaineering specialists, Jin said.
While the US has also developed microwave-style weapons, China’s alleged use of them may be the first against enemy troops anywhere in the world.
Also envisioned for use in crowd control, the sensation was once described in a medical journal as equivalent to touching a hot lightbulb.
America’s equivalent “heat ray,” the Active Denial System, was unveiled in 2007 and deployed to Afghanistan but apparently never used against hostile troops.
The Pentagon touted it as “the first non-lethal, directed-energy, counter-personnel system with an extended range greater than currently fielded non-lethal weapons.”
Fears of a political backlash were thought to have contributed to its withdrawal from Afghanistan, although the US government said it complied with international law.
News of the weapon’s alleged use in the Himalayas comes as China and India discuss ways to de-escalate tensions on the rugged mountain frontier.
The nuclear-armed neighbours have deployed tens of thousands of troops, tanks and aircraft since tensions erupted into the deadly clash in June.
The two sides are now discussing a staggered disengagement from the border area where temperatures have dropped to -18C, Indian officials said.
Jin said the microwave weapon was used after India used Tibetan soldiers, known to be skilled in mountainous terrain, to seize the two hilltops on August 29 this year.
He said that, following the move, local commanders in the Chinese military were under “huge pressure” to retake the ground.
“The central military commission was quite furious. ‘How could you be so careless as to let India seize the hilltops?’”
“So it ordered the ground be taken back, but it also demanded that no single shot be fired.”
He said the weapon was also used because the hillsides were at an elevation of 5,600m, and Chinese soldiers are not well-adapted to conducting combat at such high altitude.
Asia Times contacted India’s Ministry of External Affairs for comment on the alleged microwave incident, and a spokesman would only say, “These reports are not true … they are completely baseless.”
(Sources: The Daily Mail, The London Times, The Sun)