China recently held its first combat parachute drop in Tibet, with a battalion landing in an open area of the Tibet plateau. The average altitude on this vast plateau is 4000 meters/14,000 feet. This means parachutists have to jump from a higher altitude, because of the thinner air and the longer time it takes for the parachute to open. The reduced air pressure brings on altitude sickness for the troops, especially after something as strenuous as a parachute jump, and the frantic activity following the landing. The Chinese Army wants to find out how well prepared it is to deal with these problems.
These parachute troops went through altitude acclimatization training beforehand, as the Chinese already know what happens when you send military units straight to the high plateau. This happened two years ago, when there was an uprising in Tibet. Many of the troops sent in soon fell ill from altitude sickness. The acclimatization training detects those troops who would get ill quickly, and the worst of these are kept closer to sea level.
The Chinese also pointed out that much of China's frontier areas are covered with mountains and hills, averaging 3,000 meters (9,300 feet) in height. Training in Tibet gets the paratroopers ready to operate in all these areas.