BEIJING: Prime Minister Narendra Modi greeted both Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang on their birthdays that fell during the ongoing border standoff between troops of the two neighbors. He did this through his page on Sina Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter.
Conveying his best wishes to Xi on June 15, Modi informed Chinese people, “I met him in Astana SCO summit a few days ago, and we had effective talk on how to develop Sino-India relationship”.
The Prime Minister had also mentioned about this meeting soon after they met, in a post on Weibo on June 9. This was after India and Pakistan joined the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
He has a significant following of 1,69,119 on the Chinese social media making it the first time for an Indian leader to directly communicate with ordinary Chinese since Jawaharlal Nehru’s short lived popularity in China during the “Hindi-Chini bhai bhai” days.
The communication was a two-way affair as 1089 Chinese responded with comments to his six postings after the standoff began in mid-June.
Modi continued his interaction on the Chinese social media in the midst of a volley of angry and cathartic outpourings against India from a section of the official media. His last post was to greet Li Keqiang on his birthday on July 1.
There have been a few critical comments on his Weibo page about the standoff near the Sikkim border. But they are few in numbers and do not represent a campaign against India.
“Narendra Modi, you should call for the complete withdrawal of troops now!,” said one Weibo user while another said in a similar vein, “Narendra Modi, let the troop get out of China!”