Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s recent unscripted communication with Chinese soldiers while on a visit to the India-China border at Nathu-La in Sikkim received quite some favorable attention in the Chinese social media. Recently, a video of Nirmala Sitharaman’s exchanging greetings with the Chinese soldiers has gone viral and is a hit on social media channels.
Even the Chinese experts have given applaud to her taking the initiative to boost goodwill. However, the Chinese foreign ministry has been playing and keeping it low key whenever asked about the border issue.
The social media and other channels have praised Sitharaman as a “brave women” who is facing the taxing border challenge as a defense minister. This instance is being given so much praise and attention since the number of women in the senior ranks of the Communist Party and government in China is zero, a source said.
“I am happy to see this peaceful scene,” stated a blogger, Zhui Zhui. An Internet user, Tu Yueyue, stated in Sina Weibo (the China’s answer to Twitter), “The Indian woman defence minister directly faced the tough border problem. Such a brave woman.”
The Chinese foreign ministry seemed in a position that Sitharaman’s friendly interaction with the Chinese soldiers wasn’t much important.
“The Sikkim section of China-India border has been delineated by historical convention and the Nathu-La pass is the best witness to that fact. We hope that India would observe these historical conventions and agreements and work with China to maintain peace and tranquillity at the border.”
However, Sitharaman’s exchange of greetings with Chinese soldiers received quite some applause by Qian Feng who is an expert at the Chinese Association for South Asian Studies.
The instance “sent a goodwill signal towards mending bilateral ties and putting relations back on track toward normality”, Qian spoke to the party-run Global Times.
Another expert, Hu Shisheng, confirmed , “Although leaders of the two countries are exploring more cooperation, the focus and priority of the two countries is to avoid friction and conflict.”
If commentary by the Global Times is to be believed then it stated that Sitharamn’s border inspection was in “aggressive posture” but she managed to keep it light hearted with “diluting” the visit by conducting “friendly interactions with Chinese soldiers”.
“New Delhi needs to exercise restraint. It can only strengthen military infrastructure on its own soil when and where international law permits. It should consider deepening strategic security communication with China, which can enhance mutual trust between China and India,” it said.