Xi Jinping’s secrecy-shrouded, July 21 to 23 visit to Tibet — the first officially acknowledged trip to the politically troubled “roof of the world” by a Chinese president in three decades — helped shine a spotlight on China’s ongoing military confrontation with India.

The two nuclear-armed titans have been locked for 15 months in intensifying military standoffs at multiple sites along their long and disputed Himalayan frontier.

China’s state media, reporting the visit only after Xi returned home, said the Chinese leader met with Tibet-based commanders and officers of the People‘s Liberation Army (PLA) and called for strengthening “war preparation.” In fact, Xi began his visit with an overnight stopover at a forward PLA base located barely 15 kilometers from the heavily militarized border with India.