INDIA’s Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has warmly welcomed Chinese troops after the two Asian hegemons faced off in a remote Himalayan border region for several months earlier this year.
“I wish good luck to your people of your country,” said Sitharaman in the video posted to the Defence Minister’s Twitter account on Sunday, which subsequently garnered much praise online from Chinese and Indian netizens alike. “Namaste.”
“India and China are so great,” replied a Chinese soldier in broken English. “Ni hao.”
— Raksha Mantri (@DefenceMinIndia) October 8, 2017
The exchange, which took place at the border at Nathu-la, Sikkim, has been seen reflective of thawing relations between the two regional powers. Sitharaman is India’s first female defence minister.
“This is beautiful from Indian defence minister,” wrote one person on Twitter. “Women successfully leading crucial ministries should make their people proud.”
“The greeting sent a goodwill signal towards mending bilateral ties and putting relations back on track toward normality”, said Qian Feng, an expert at the Chinese Association for South Asian Studies as quoted by the Hindustan Times.
At the end of August, both countries announced their troops had withdrawn from the Doklam plateau following diplomatic talks.
“Sitharaman’s greeting to the Chinese soldiers conveys her hope for peace on the Sino-Indian border and unwillingness to see a new standoff,” said an opinion piece in the Communist Party mouthpiece Global Times, which also referred to the gesture as a “warm signal.”
“This is commonly regarded as the attitude of the Narendra Modi government.”
— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) October 8, 2017
The standoff had raised fears of a wider conflict between the Asian giants who fought a brief border war in 1962.
The trouble started in June when India sent troops to stop China building a road in the Doklam area, which is remote, uninhabited territory claimed by both China and Bhutan.
India said it sent its troops because Chinese military activity there was a threat to the security of its own northeast region.
But China said India had no role to play in the area and insisted it withdraw unilaterally or face the prospect of an escalation. They both subsequently agreed to withdraw after negotiations.