Why is Sikh soldier a bogeyman for Chinese army at Ladakh

Not far from the Rezang La-Rechin La ridgeline that has emerged as a key friction point between Indian and Chinese troops, the Chushul brigade headquarters mess still houses artefacts including a gold statue of the Laughing Buddha seized by the Sikh regiments more than a century ago.

The soldiers were part of an eight-nation mission to neutralise China’s Boxer Rebellion at the turn of the last century, an uprising led by young farmers and workers against foreign influence. The British Army had brought in Sikh and Punjab regiments among others.

The statue of the Laughing Buddha at the army mess in Chushul was one of the items brought back by the soldiers. A gilded bronze bell dating back to the 1368-1644 Ming dynasty – one of the missing 16 – looted by a British general, was eventually returned by the Indian Army to Beijing’s Temple of Heaven in 1995.

An Indian army commander said this historical context could be a reason why the China’s People’s Liberation Army psy-ops focuses so much on the Punjabi, or Sikh soldiers.

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