Amid tensions with India over the standoff in Eastern Ladakh sector, China has reportedly built a surface-to-air missile near a lake, which is a part of the Kailash-Mansarovar.
The development of the missile, according to experts, is a continuation of the aggressive provocation by the Chinese and it could further complicate the border tensions between the two countries, The Epoch Times reported.
Mount Kailash and Lake Mansarovar, commonly known as the Kailash-Mansarovar site is revered by four religions and is linked to culture and spiritual scriptures in India. While the Hindus consider the site as the abode of Shiva and his consort Parvati, the Tibetan Buddhists call the mountain Kang Rimpoche, the “Precious One of Glacial Snow,” and revere it as the abode of Demchog and his consort, Dorje Phagmo.
The Jains call the mountain Astapada and consider it to be the place where the first of their 24 spiritual masters achieved liberation. The Bons, adherents of the pre-Buddhist religion of Tibet, term the mountain Tise and revere it the dwelling place of the sky goddess, Sipaimen.
The placing of the missile at the sacred site, which is also the origin of four transnational rivers — Indus, Brahmaputra, Sutlej and Karnali, a major tributary of the Ganges, menaces India, which has refused to back down against Chinese aggression on the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
“In my view, first and foremost, it is a continuation of the Chinese provocation against India, which we are seeing all along from the LAC in Ladakh to the eastern and middle sector bordering areas with India,” Priyajit Debsarkar, author and a geopolitical analyst with the London-based think tank Bridge India, told The Epoch Times in an e-mail.
“This move, of deploying a surface-to-air missile in Tibet, should not surprise us. It is pure authoritarian brinkmanship and provocation to India, which has refused to back down against Chinese threats and aggressive aggression,” Debsarkar said.
India and China are engaged in a standoff since April-May over the transgressions by the Chinese Army in multiple areas including Finger area, Galwan valley, Hot springs and Kongrung Nala. In June, 20 Indian soldiers died in a violent face-off with Chinese troops in Eastern Ladakh.
Talks between the two sides have been going on for the last three months including five Lieutenant General-level talks but have failed to yield any results, so far.
Aparna Pande, a research fellow and the director of the Washington-based Hudson Institute’s Initiative on the Future of India and South Asia, told the newspaper that China does not respect and believe in religion and culture.
“We have to bear in mind that the Chinese do not care about Christianity. They do not care about any of the ancient Chinese practices. They believe religion is the opium of the masses and the only ideology they care about is their form of communism,” Pande said.
“They don’t care about symbols and symbolism except those that are tied to the Chinese Communist Party,” she was quoted as saying.
Harsh Pant, a New Delhi-based strategic analyst with the Observer Research Foundation (ORF), echoed similar sentiments and stated that China’s move of creating military infrastructure at Kailash-Mansarovar will only intensify the anti-China sentiment within India.
“The fact that this happens to be one of the most sacred religious sites for the Hindus is also indicative of the disdain Beijing has for Indian sentiments,” Pant said.
“This is only going to accentuate tensions in an already troubled relationship and will not only make Indian public even more antagonistic to China but will also make Indian policymakers even more determined to stand up to China,” he added.
The missile base at Kailash-Mansarovar is a part of China’s greater militarisation of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), according to Girish Kant Pandey, professor of defence studies at the Pandit Ravishankar Shukla University in Raipur.
“The missile mounted near Kailash-Mansarovar is called DF-21. It is a medium-range, 2,200 kilometres ballistic missile. Its advantage is that it can cover all cities of north India, including New Delhi,” Pandey told The Epoch Times over the phone.
From 2006 to 2010, China carried out 180 strategic projects, which it did not mention in its defence budgets. These projects include constructing four large airstrips, 14 small airstrips and 17 radar stations on the India-China frontier from east to west, Pandey said.
Earlier today, an Indian Army spokesperson said the Indian Army has thwarted an attempt by the Chinese Army to transgress into Indian areas near the southern bank of Pangong Tso near Chushul in Ladakh on the intervening night of Saturday and Sunday and talks are being held now to resolve the issue there.
“On the night of August 29-30, PLA troops violated the previous consensus arrived at during military and diplomatic engagements during the ongoing standoff in Eastern Ladakh and carried out provocative military movements to change the status quo,” said Army spokesperson Colonel Aman Anand in a statement.
The Indian Army took measures to strengthen its position and “and thwart Chinese intentions to unilaterally change facts on the ground”.
Meanwhile, Aparna Pande stated that China has placed missiles aiming at Japan, Taiwan, Australia, the US and ASEAN countries.
“From their point of view, it is also important to now start placing missiles in the areas where they can target India and the Indian Ocean region. So Kailash-Mansarovar helps with that,” Pande said.
Debsarkar noted that another reason for China’s missile at the Kailash-Mansarovar site is a response to India, which recently built a road to a Himalayan pass of strategic value. He said the missile site is meant to provoke India as it has constructed a road up to Lipulekh, The Epoch Times reported.
“India’s objective is, however, to facilitate our pilgrimage visiting Kailash, by making it much easier especially it’s dangerous to cross the preexisting treacherous path. The Chinese establishment is against the massive road construction across the Indo-China border,” he said.
India’s Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had inaugurated a strategic road till Lipulekh pass on May 8. However, Nepal objected to it, claiming that Lipulekh is a part of its territory. Subsequently, the Himalayan nation issued a new controversial map incorporating Indian territories of Kalapani, Lipulekh and Limpiyadhura.
In response, India said the updated map of Nepal is “not based on historical facts and evidence” and termed the claims by Kathmandu as artificial enlargement.