The Chinese regime has set up a surface-to-air missile site on the banks of a sacred lake, according to Indian media, which claims the installation is a desecration of a religious site revered by hundreds of millions in India.
China started in April to build military infrastructure near a lake that’s part of the sacred Kailash-Mansarovar site. India Today reported on Aug. 22 that construction is complete, and the pilgrimage site resembles a “battle zone with heavy military presence.”
Mount Kailash and Lake Mansarovar, popularly known as the Kailash-Mansarovar site is revered by four religions and is linked to culture, folklore, and spiritual scriptures in India.
The Hindus revere it as the seat of Shiva and his consort Parvati. The Tibetan Buddhists call the mountain Kang Rimpoche, the “Precious One of Glacial Snow,” and consider it as the abode of Demchog and his consort, Dorje Phagmo.
The Jains calls the mountain Astapada and believe 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, call the mountain Tise and consider it the dwelling place of the sky goddess, Sipaimen.
Experts said that placing a 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 its western border.
“In my view, first and foremost, it is a continuation of the Chinese, CCP provocation against the Republic of India, which we are seeing all along from the LAC [line of actual control] 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 email.
India and China have been involved in various border skirmishes on the disputed border in Ladakh and Sikkim since May, the latest flare-up of a decades-long border conflict. One of these skirmishes turned bloody on June 15, with 20 Indian soldiers and an unknown number of Chinese soldiers killed.
Since then, despite various high-level talks, the two countries haven’t been able to resolve their conflict and their bilateral ties have worsened amid accusations by both sides.
“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.
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 Epoch Times over the phone that the Chinese regime doesn’t care about religion or culture.
“We have to bear in mind that the Chinese don’t care about Christianity. They don’t 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, adding examples of what’s happening with Uyghurs and Falun Gong practitioners inside China.
“They don’t care about symbols and symbolism except those that are tied to the Chinese Communist Party,” added Pande.
Harsh Pant, a New Delhi-based strategic analyst with the Observer Research Foundation told The Epoch Times in a written message that China erecting military infrastructure at Kailash-Mansarovar will only intensify 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,” said Pant.
“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 sacred trek called the Kailash Mansarovar pilgrimage, which happens between June and mid-September and is conducted under the patronage of the Indian External Affairs Ministry, was canceled this year due to COVID-19, according to Times of India.
‘Might Is Right’
Girish Kant Pandey, professor of defense studies at the Pandit Ravishankar Shukla University in Raipur in Central India told The Epoch Times over the phone that the missile base at Kailash-Mansarovar is a part of China’s greater militarization of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR).
“The missile mounted near Kailash-Mansarovar is called DF-21. It’s a medium-range, 2,200 kilometers [about 1,367 miles] ballistic missile. Its advantage is that it can cover all cities of north India, including New Delhi,” said Pandey.
Pandey said that the Chinese regime is converting TAR into a military zone, and from 2006 to 2010, it undertook 180 strategic projects that it didn’t show in its defense budget. These projects include building four large airstrips, 14 small airstrips, and 17 radar stations on the India–China frontier from east to west, he said.
To the Chinese regime, the Kailash-Mansarovar is not a sacred site but a strategically located mountain, and the Himalayas are a hindrance to their expansionist agenda, Pande added.
“For them, Himalayas is not a mountain chain which is sacred, which is cultural, which is historic … for them, it is an impediment that is coming in their path of trying to create an empire that is extended into South Asia. So they have always tried to conquer the Himalayas. They have never tried to live in peace with the Himalayas,” Pande said, adding that the Chinese also want to show off that they have everything that’s needed to be present in such a strategic location.
“Might is Right. We can do it. We have the power, the will to do it and so we’ll do it,” said Pande while explaining the CCP behavior.
She said the Chinese regime has already placed missiles aiming at Japan, Taiwan, Australia, United States, and the ASEAN countries.
“From their point of view, it’s 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,” said Pande.
Countering a Road
Debsarkar said another reason to put a missile at the sacred site is to counter India recently building a road to a Himalayan pass of strategic value.
He believes the missile site is meant to threaten India because it has constructed a road up to Lipulekh. “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,” Debsarkar said.
“The Chinese establishment is against the massive road construction across the Indo–China border.”
Lipulekh is a Himalayan pass; the road was inaugurated by India’s Defense Minister Rajnath Singh on May 8.
The 50-mile, 17,000-foot-high road, which hasn’t been completed, according to India Express, became an issue of contention between India and Nepal. Indian experts believe that the ruling Nepalese Communist Party at China’s behest protested against the road, claiming the territory on which it was built.
India’s Army Chief General M.M. Naravane said then that “there is reason to believe” that Nepal’s objection to the road inaugurated by Singh was “at the behest of someone else,” hinting at China.