Beijing: China on Friday said it was making “joint efforts” with India to bring home one of its soldiers who crossed into the country over five decades ago and settled there after being released by Indian authorities, as the state media said his return would enhance bilateral understanding.
China is aware of the case of Wang Qi, who was detained when he crossed into India in 1963, Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said.
“We sympathise with what happened to him and will provide assistance to him. We believe under joint efforts and by respecting his will, the case will be solved properly,” he said.
Wang, now 77, was reportedly nabbed along India’s eastern frontiers in January 1963, weeks after the Sino-India war. He spent years in a number of jails before a court ordered his release in 1969. He was reportedly taken by police to Tirodi, a remote village in Madhya Pradesh where he has lived since.
He has sought permission from New Delhi and Beijing to allow him to travel to China to meet his three brothers and two sisters. Born in a farmer family in Shaanxi province, he studied surveying and joined China’s People’s Liberation Army in 1960.
His is a complex case for both the sides as Wang – after being released in 1969 – settled in Tirodi village, where he married a local and has three children.
His Indian family is anxious if he would return from China.
In New Delhi, External Affairs Ministry spokesman Vikas Swarup yesterday said, “We are in touch with Ministry of Home Affairs to ascertain the details and how best it could be handled.”
Wang’s case has been highlighted in the Chinese media following a recent BBC television report on him. And, an Op-ed article in China’s state-run Global Times said helping Wang return home would enhance mutual understanding and contribute to warming of ties between China and India.
“Although it’s unclear whether Wang is a prisoner of war, it is inhumane to have isolated the elderly man from his family for such a long time,” the article said.
India media has previously reported Wang’s story but this is perhaps the first time Chinese media has highlighted it.
However, the Op-ed piece did not mention Wang’s marriage to the Indian woman.
“The Indian authorities should give their utmost attention to this case, actively communicating with the Chinese Embassy and improving administrative efficiency in processing this case, while the Chinese side should cooperate to provide the necessary documents pertaining to Wang that India requires,” the article demanded.
“If properly handled and solved, the case will help enhance mutual understanding of the public of both countries, contributing to further warming bilateral ties,” it said.
Wang was issued a passport by the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi in 2013 and applied for permission to travel to China in 2014, but since Wang’s quest has made no headway due to “official procedures”, the article said.
“If Wang’s hope for a reunion with his family in China is shattered in India’s red tape, that will hurt the feelings of a massive number of Chinese netizens,” it said.
Wang has told the BBC he was “tasked with building roads for the Chinese army” and was captured when he “strayed erroneously” inside India’s territory in January 1963.
“I had gone out of my camp for a stroll but lost my way. I was tired and hungry. I saw a Red Cross vehicle and asked them to help me. They handed me over to the Indian army,” he said.