A Chinese medium-range air defense missile is fired by a mobile launcher.
DHARAMSHALA, August 1: China successfully test fired three new surface-to-air missiles on the Tibetan plateau sometime last month, prompting further questions on its assertions of a “peaceful rise.”
The exercise, as reported by the People’s Liberation Army’s Daily Online on July 20, was targeted at enemy aircrafts from the “south-east” direction - an obvious reference to India.
The exercise was conducted by the Lanzhou Military Area Command at a mountain pass at an altitude of 5000 metres. Observers believe that the new surface-to-air missile tested has been tailor-made for operations in the high altitude terrain and rarefied atmosphere of Tibet.
The Indian defence think-tank, Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, noted that the exercise, apart from testing new equipment in the Tibetan environment, has reportedly helped the unit to gather more than a hundred technical data relating to topics like storage and maintenance of equipment, system coordination and troop mobility in the Tibetan plateau.
IDSA said that a similar test was conducted of two missiles in Horqin grasslands, Tongliao, Inner Mongolia by PLA in September last.
The think tank said China’s latest missile test “reveals the security dilemma existing between these two neighbours” and noted that it could lead to the “further intensification of the perception of an armed conflict and the militarisation of the Himalayan region.”
“Development and deployment of the new missile in Tibet would definitely figure in the acquisition and deployment of matching defence hardware on the Indian said,” IDSA said.
Last week, a senior Indian army officer, posted at North West Frontier joined a growing chorus of Indian military experts, including former Army chief General V.K. Singh and the Naresh Chandra Task Force on national security in calling China an enemy nation.
Indo-Tibetan Border Police DIG, Nagender Singh called China an enemy that could not be trusted and said that in the event of a conflict, China should be given a befitting reply.
"Chinese have shrewd intentions. The country is not reliable. They have always remained our enemy and we can never believe what they say," Singh said.
He added that Indian forces will try to reclaim lost territory that China continues to occupy since the 1962 border war.
The Naresh Chandra task force, appointed to review and suggest new steps to reform the security establishment recommended that India should be prepared militarily to deal with an “assertive” China.
"There is concern about China's policy of "containment" of India, marked by growing Chinese interest in countries of South Asia. China will continue to utilize Pakistan as part of its grand strategy for containing India in a ‘South Asian box,’” the panel says.