Helping stray soldier will help Sino-Indian understanding

By Yu Ning Source:Global Times Published: 2017/2/3 0:08:39

Whether a Chinese soldier who has been trapped in India for over half a century can return home has garnered extensive attention. According to a BBC report on Tuesday, following the end of the 1962 Sino-Indian war, Wang Qi, a Chinese army surveyor, "strayed erroneously" into India's territory in January 1963, where he was picked up by the Red Cross, turned over to Indian authorities, and has been unable to leave India ever since.

Wang, who is now in his 80s, has been seeking to return for five decades. However, after a local court ordered his release after seven years in different jails in 1969, he was taken to a far-flung village in India's central state of Madhya Pradesh and denied permission to return to China. He was unable to see his mother who died in 2006 one last time.

Wang's story caused quite a stir on China's social media and appeals are rising that the man should be helped back home as soon as possible. There is also speculation that India is deliberately making it difficult for Wang, blocking him from returning to China.

Wang was issued a Chinese passport by the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi in 2013 and applied for permission to travel to China in 2014, but since then Wang's quest has been lost in "official procedures" in New Delhi. It is high time for the Indian authorities to take the case seriously and process it efficiently. 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. 

As long and excruciating as it was, two veteran Chinese soldiers, captured during the 1962 Sino-Indian war and kept in an Indian mental hospital for nearly 35 years, were returned to China in 2003. That was conceived as a goodwill gesture that both countries hoped would lead them out of the shadow of the 1962 war. 

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 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.

If properly handled and solved, the case will help enhance mutual understanding of the public of both countries, contributing to further warming bilateral ties.

Posted in: OBSERVER

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