Beijing: Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had a brief conversation with Chinese soldiers during her maiden visit to the Nathu La border post in Sikkim and was even seen teaching them how to say ‘Namaste’.
A short video of her interaction with the Chinese soldiers yesterday was posted on Sunday by the Defence Minister’s official Twitter handle, where she was seen in the clip greeting the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) personnel with a “namaste”.
“Do you know what ‘Namaste’ means?” Ms. Sitharaman was seen asking one of the PLA personnel who appeared confused and said “Namaste” while trying to explain the meaning.
— Raksha Mantri (@DefenceMinIndia) October 8, 2017
At this point, some Indian soldiers tried to come to the assistance of their Chinese counterparts but Ms. Sitharaman asked them to let the PLA men find the meaning on their own.
After some time, one of the soldiers, with a smile on his face, said “Namaste means nice to meet you.”
Then Ms. Sitharaman asked “What would you say in Chinese?”
“Ni hao,” responded the Chinese soldiers, triggering laughter on both sides.
Earlier, one of the Chinese soldiers was seen introducing his commander to Ms. Sitharaman.
The video has gone viral on social media. Yesterday, Sitharaman had posted a photo of her waving at the Chinese troops.
“Acknowledged a row of Chinese soldiers from across the fence who were taking pictures on my reaching Nathu La,” she had tweeted.
The Defence Minister visited various forward areas along the India-China border yesterday in Sikkim including Nathu La, which is around 30 km from Doklam, the site of 73-day- long standoff between Indian and Chinese soldiers.
Her visit came amid reports that China has strengthened its military presence at the Doklam Plateau and even started widening an existing road which is at a distance of around 12 km from the area of the conflict.