Calls to return 'veteran' to China

Updated 2017-02-03 09:57:21 China Daily
Wang Qi

Wang Qi

The case of a Chinese man, reportedly a veteran soldier, who has been unable to leave India for 54 years has triggered calls on social media for him to be repatriated.

According to a BBC report on Tuesday, Wang Qi, now in his 80s, "entered India in 1963 but could never go back" shortly after a war between the two countries in border areas.

It is unclear under what circumstances he was taken into custody by the Indian authorities and whether he is a prisoner of war, but it is believed he was not carrying any form of identification.

Wang is currently living free in central India but cannot leave the country, according to the report.

The Chinese embassy in New Dehli responded on Wednesday, saying that Wang "has been denied official Indian documents and citizenship" by the authorities and "denied permission to travel back" to China.

Zhao Jun, head of the embassy's consular section, said in a statement that the embassy "is aware of the case and is in close contact with Wang, his relatives and the Indian authorities".

"We're greatly sympathetic about his suffering and have consistently offered help," Zhao said, adding that with the joint efforts of China and India, this case "will surely be resolved in an ideal manner on the basis of respect for the will of the individual concerned".

Zhao did not confirm Wang's age or whether he had been a soldier.

The BBC report was cited by many Chinese online news services. A subtitled version of the two-minute video report attracted more than 780 comments on Toutiaoxinwen, a popular news feed on Sina Weibo.

"Hopefully, the elderly man can get home as soon as possible," read one typical post.

The Global Times reported on Thursday that the embassy has submitted the necessary paperwork to allow Wang to travel to China, but the Indian authorities had not responded.

Ye Hailin, an expert on South Asian studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the first step for the two governments is to clarify Wang's identity, as blocking someone from leaving the country for decades goes against international codes and norms.

"No matter whether Wang is a veteran or a civilian, India should ensure humanitarian treatment, including giving him any necessary medical care," he said.

It is still unclear whether Wang would want to re-enter India in the case he is allowed to leave the country, according to the BBC.

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