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Nirmala Sitharaman Teaches Namaste at the Indian-Tibet Border, Warms Chinese Hearts

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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.’

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.

Adan Kohnhorst
Adan Kohnhorst is a Shanghai-based writer, producer, and multimedia artist, and the Associate Editor at RADII. His work has been featured in publications such as Maxim and the Chinese-language StreetVoice, and he’s an active member of the hip-hop and DIY music scenes in Shanghai, NYC, and Dallas. He learned Mandarin in high school so he could train at the Shaolin Temple, but now just uses it to interview rappers.

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