A video of the Indian Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman greeting Chinese soldiers during her first visit to the Sino-Indian border in Sikkim has gone viral.
The recently appointed Minister visited various forward areas along the border yesterday in Sikkim including Nathu La, which is around 30 km from Doklam, the site of a lengthy standoff between Indian and Chinese soldiers.
The video had been posted on Sitharaman’s official Twitter handle and the report about her visit had been widely carried in the Indian media.
In the video, she is seen greeting the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers at the Nathu La border post in Sikkim with a ‘Namaste’ – the Indian form of greeting – and having a pleasant chat.
She was also seen asking one of the PLA personnel: “Do you know what ‘Namaste’ means?”. One of the PLA personnel appeared confused and said “Namaste” while trying to explain the meaning.
At this point, some Indian soldiers tried to come to the aid of their Chinese counterparts but Sitharaman asked them to let the PLA men find the meaning on their own.
One of the Chinese soldiers, with a smile on his face, said “Namaste means nice to meet you.”
It was Sitharaman turn to ask: “What would you say in Chinese?”
“Ni hao,” came the response from the Chinese soldiers, followed by laughter from both sides.
Earlier, one of the Chinese soldiers was seen introducing his commander to Sitharaman.
Sitharaman had also posted a photo of her waving at the Chinese troops.
The Indian minister’s visit came amid reports that China has strengthened its military presence at the Doklam Plateau and even started constructing a road in Chumbi valley, about 10km from Doklam.