Defense minister Nirmala Sitharaman exchanging greetings with Chinese
Defense minister Nirmala Sitharaman exchanging greetings with Chinese

Defense minister Nirmala Sitharaman exchanging greetings with Chinese

BEIJING: Defense minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s flabbergasted interaction with Chinese soldiers during a visit to the India-China border at Nathu-La in Sikkim drew encouraging attention in Chinese social media where a video of her exchanging greetings with the soldiers has gone viral within seconds.

Even Chinese experts have admired her initiative to move on for goodwill but the Chinese foreign ministry tried to play down the matter simply repeating its earlier stance on the border issue.

 Sitharaman has also been admired as a "brave women" facing the border challenge as a defense minister. This is momentous because there is no woman in the senior ranks of the Communist Party and government in China, a source said.

"I am happy to see this peaceful scene," posted a blogger, Zhui Zhui. Another Internet user, Tu Yueyue, wrote in Sina Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, "The Indian woman defense minister directly faced the tough border problem. Such a brave woman."

The Chinese foreign ministry appeared to suggest that Sitharaman's affable interaction with Chinese soldiers was of little importance.

"The Sikkim section of China-India border has been demarcated 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 tranquility at the border."

But Sitharaman's exchange of greetings with Chinese soldiers came in for admiration by Qian Feng, an expert at the Chinese Association for South Asian Studies.

It "sent a goodwill signal towards mending bilateral ties and putting relations back on track toward familiarity", Qian told party-run Global Times.

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