A high-altitude, wind-swept military cemetery in Xinjiang which houses the tombs of more than 100 Chinese soldiers who died fighting Indian troops during the 1962 war and in the Galwan Valley clash last year is being renovated to serve as a base for patriotic education.
The desolate cemetery was designated a Communist Party of China (CPC) “education base” in September, and large-scale renovation work is currently ongoing, a report published by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) portal said last weekend.
The designation of the Kangxiwar Martyrs’ Cemetery as a patriotic education base and its renovation was hastened after a Chinese travel blogger managed to enter the site in July and click smiling selfies, triggering an online furore in the country.
On November 15, the blogger was jailed for seven months for dishonouring dead soldiers.
The cemetery is likely the first such “patriotic education base” in connection with Sino-India military history.
“Patriotic education” or “demonstration” bases are a strategic part of the ruling CPC’s efforts to spread party propaganda in the country, especially this year, the CPC’s 100th anniversary.
As of 2019 September, there were more than 470 such bases in China.
The Kangxiwar Martyrs’ Cemetery, located 4,280 metres, or more than 14,000 feet, above sea level in the Karakorum mountains in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR), is China’s highest cemetery.
Located some 100km from a stretch of the disputed Sino-India border, it was built in 1965 to commemorate dozens of PLA soldiers killed in the 1962 India-China war.
Currently, it houses gravestones in memory of 108 Chinese troops, including four who China acknowledged were killed in Galwan Valley in June 2020 during the border clash with Indian soldiers. The remains of many have also been moved to the deceased’s home towns.
In September, the cemetery was designated as a patriotic education base by the Xinjiang government following the launch of the renovation project in August.