Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman teaches Chinese soldiers the meaning of ‘Namaste’

NEW DELHI: Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday taught Chinese soldiers the meaning of the Indian greeting ‘namaste’ during her visit to the Sino-Indian border in Sikkim.

A video tweeted from the official handle of the defence minister’s office shows Sitharaman interacting with a Chinese officer , who then introduces her to his colleagues.

The minister greets the officers with folded hands and a ‘namaste.’

She then quizzes the soldiers across the border about the meaning of her greeting.

“(Do) you know what ‘namaste’ is,” she asks.

When Indian soldiers present at the scene try to prompt the answer, the minister issues them a mild rebuke, asking them to “hold on.”

The officer almost guesses correctly: Nice to meet you.

Sitharaman asks him what he would say to her in Chinese and he responds, “Ni hao.”

The minister also compliments the English-speaking Chinese officer, assumably the senior-most there, on his English language skills.

This friendly interaction comes days after reports emerged that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has started constructing a road in Chumbi valley, about 10km from Doklam.

The Indian government maintained, however, that there was no change in the status quo in the area.