Things have always been kind of tense in Nathu La, where India’s Sikkim state meets China’s Tibet Autonomous Region. One feel-good clip is going viral though, showing Indian Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in a lighthearted exchange with Chinese soldiers, teaching the meaning of ‘Namaste.’
— Raksha Mantri (@DefenceMinIndia) October 8, 2017
The clip posted by the Defence Minister’s official Twitter handle shows the interaction, where Nirmala tells the soldiers namaste, and then asks if they know what it means. At first the soldiers seem a little puzzled, but Nirmala tells her entourage to hold on and let them figure it out. Eventually the two parties are trading namastes and ni haos like old schoolmates.
Chinese netizens have been pretty happy about the clip, saying that the gesture was a good sign towards better relations at the historically controversial border area. Qian Feng, an expert at the China Association for South Asian Studies told the state-run Global Times that the scene “sent a goodwill signal towards mending bilateral ties and putting relations back on track toward normality.”
Meanwhile, the party itself basically just deepened down on its own position, calling the border inspection an “aggressive posture”, but admitting that Sitharaman “diluted” it with her cordial interactions. Classic.