Ahead of his May 14-16 visit to China, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi went on China’s Twitter-like Weibo site and posted: “Hello China! Looking forward to interacting with Chinese friends through Weibo”.
Modi, who prides himself on using social media (among world leaders, he has one of the biggest followings on Twitter after United States President Barack Obama and Pope Francis), was reportedly surprised by the response his Weibo post.
According to the Financial Times, most responses from Chinese citizens were critical, derogatory and even racist, and most referred to a territorial dispute between the two countries over the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, which China calls “South Tibet”.
But Modi’s visit to China is focussed on economic cooperation and attracting billions of dollars’ worth of promised Chinese investment to India and not on the controversial issues like strategic rivalry in Asia and a dispute over their border.
“There are many important bilateral issues – from territorial disputes to the Dalai Lama and Chinese submarine sales to Pakistan – but none of them can be resolved with such visits,” Shen Dingli, Associate Dean of the Institute of International Studies at Fudan University in Shanghai was quoted as saying by the Financial Times.
“There is vast potential in trade, tourism, student exchanges, education, science, medicine, technology and sports… India should be gracious by being tolerant over China’s unwillingness to accept Arunachal Pradesh and China has to be realistic: India has nuclear weapons, so what can we do?”
China recently promised a whopping $450bn worth of infrastructure investment to India.