Thursday, 15 November, 2018

Nirmala Sitharaman teaches Chinese soldiers to say namaste

Sitharaman with troops Nirmala Sitharaman to visit Nathu La along with Army chief
Melinda Barton | 10 October, 2017, 16:09

Defence Minister Niramala Sitharamana's one-day visit to the Sino-Indian border in Sikkim on Saturday and her brief interaction with Chinese soldiers has won her many favourable reactions from the Chinese media.

The Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post headlined its story saying that "India's defence minister builds bridges with Chinese troops".

State-run English news channel CGTN carried parts of the footage with the caption "Indian defence minister greets Chinese border soldiers".

Her interaction with Chinese troops also received a positive response from China's netizens.

"Namaste, You know what namaste means?", she can be heard asking.

"Acknowledged a row of Chinese soldiers from across the fences who were taking pictures on my reaching Nathu La", Sitharaman tweeted. Chinese soldiers then explain that they nǐ hǎo while greeting people.

However, her scheduled aerial survey of Doklam and forward posts in the border areas of Sikkim was cancelled due to inclement weather, a statement issued by the Department of Information and Public Relations, government of Sikkim, said.

A Defence Ministry press release said, the visit was part of her familiarisation with all the formations of the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force came close on the heels of her visit to Northern Command recently and her visit to Sikkim yesterday. The Doklam Plateau is claimed by both Beijing and Bhutan as their territory. The Defense Minister met some of the Chinese soldiers stationed at Nathu La. The tension eased after talks between top officials of both the countries.

The right-leaning China daily said some Indian nationalists "over-estimate India's strength and rights, assuming New Delhi can bark orders across the border at Beijing".

There are also reports of road expansion activity in the nearby zones of Doklam, but sources in the security establishment said it did not affect India's strategic interest as it was 10 km from the point of standoff. She also offered candies to the army personnel there.