When Nirmla Sitharaman taught Chinese soldiers Hindi at Nathu La

Kristopher Drake
October 11, 2017

Long after China and India negotiated a face-saving "disengagement" to the Sikkim border standoff, PLA troops are still causing unease with a heavy presence near the disputed terrain.

Sitharaman's interaction with the People's Liberation Army troops at Nathu La with Namaste diplomacy also appears to have struck a chord across the border as Chinese commentators said it sent a "goodwill signal" to mend the bilateral ties following the Dokalam standoff. "This is commonly regarded as the attitude of the Narendra Modi government", it said.

The friendly conversation comes days after the standoff between the Indian and Chinese troops at Doklam, which lasted for almost 70 days before the two sides entered into a "disengagement agreement".

Greeting them with a customary "namaste", she asked the PLA officials if they knew what it meant. "Some Indians believe New Delhi will take tough measures to crush Beijing's will", it added.

Thereafter, she visited the Gajraj Corps HQ where she was briefed on the overall security situation in Assam and the Kameng Sector of Arunachal Pradesh and the operational preparedness of the Corps.

An editorial in the media outlet said, "Indian society is sensitive and arrogant, and Indian media is amplifying nationalism". Such an idea is only advocated by extreme nationalists. "Sitharaman's charm offensive might help break the ice between Chinese and Indian public opinion".

Sitharaman had also posted a photo of her waving at the Chinese troops.

"India isn't a major focus for China's global strategy". Its modernisation and development does not depend on winning the initiative in its relations with China.

"New Delhi needs to exercise restraint", it said.

At the end of August, both countries announced their troops had withdrawn from the Doklam plateau following diplomatic talks. As India gradually rises to become a major economy, being more diplomatically independent is a must.

Just weeks ago there was a terse eye-ball to eye-ball contact between soldiers of both sides during the Doklam incident in nearby Bhutan.

It said Doklam belonged to China and "during the Doklam face-off, Beijing intensified efforts to develop infrastructure in the region and road construction there will be a long-term trend".

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