A friendly wave at Chinese soldiers manning the Nathu La border in India’s Sikkim state by India’s defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman has charmed defence and foreign relations commentators in Beijing.
“Sino-Indian relations is entering a new era of crisis management where Indian leadership should seek to fix stagnated ties,” a Chinese expert commented on Sunday in China Military following Indian defense minister’s wave to Chinese soldiers and greeting them in the traditional Indian way of 'Namaste' at the border.
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.
Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had visited the Nathu La Himalayan mountain pass that connects the Indian state of Sikkim with China's Tibet Autonomous Region on Saturday. "Acknowledged a row of Chinese soldiers from across the fence who were taking pictures on my reaching Nathu La," Sitharaman later tweeted.
The greeting sent a goodwill signal towards mending bilateral ties and putting relations back on track toward normality, Qian Feng, an expert at the Chinese Association for South Asian Studies, told the Global Times.
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.
The Doklam standoff shows that China and India have witnessed growing mistrust and misunderstanding and it has exerted a massive negative impact on cooperation between the two countries, said Qian.
"Though leaders of the two countries are exploring more cooperation, the focus and priority of the two countries is to avoid friction and conflict," Hu said.
According to Qian, the Indian government should show more determination for improving ties as its current Prime Minister Narendra Modi enjoys advantages towards achieving that goal.
Sitharaman was accorded a guard of honor on her arrival at Nathu La. Chief of Eastern Command Lt Gen Abhay Krishna briefed her about the Indian army's security preparedness along the border.
Her scheduled aerial survey of Doklam and forward posts in border areas of Sikkim was canceled on Saturday due to bad weather, said a statement issued by the Department of Information and Public Relations, government of Sikkim.