China ready to maintain peace with India along the border

Nirmala Sitharaman

India's Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had a brief and unscripted interaction with a group of Chinese soldiers during her maiden visit to the Nathu La border post in Sikkim.

Since taking charge as Defence Minister, Ms. Sitharaman has travelled extensively to various military stations and border areas. The Ministry of External Affairs, in a recent statement, denied that the India-China "disengagement agreement", which brought the Doklam standoff to an end, was violated.

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.

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". Amid her meetings with the forces, the Defence Minister also "acknowledged a row of Chinese soldiers from across the fence".

"Sitharaman's greeting to the Chinese soldiers conveys her hope for peace on the Sino-Indian border and unwillingness to see a new standoff".

Another Internet user, Tu Yueyue, wrote in Sina Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, "The Indian woman defence minister directly faced the tough border problem". In return, the Chinese soldiers too reply with greetings in Mandarin, Ni Hao.




China appeared to welcome the Indian minister's gestures at the border.

China will continue to build the road in Doklam and India's strong reaction to the "logical" construction is "eccentric", a Chinese daily said on Monday.

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

On the other hand, the country has said that the Sikkim section of the India-China border has been delineated by historical convention and said that the country should abide by this "fact".

Ties between China and India have been struggling in the last three years and China's image in India has even been demonized in some cases, said Hu Shisheng, director of the Institute of South and Southeast Asian and Oceania Studies in Beijing.

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