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Mon. Mar 20th, 2023
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NEW DELHI: The Chinese netizens have given an “unusual” nickname to Prime Minister Narendra Modi – “Modi Laoxian” – even as India and China have been engaged in a bitter border row for the last three years. “Modi Laoxian” means Modi is immortal. In Chinese, Laoxian refers to “an elderly immortal with some weird abilities”.
According to a recent report on a US-based international online news magazine, Chinese netizens think PM Modi is different – “even more amazing” – than other world leaders. The Laoxian-like difference is not just in his dressing style and physical appearance, but in some of his policies as compared to his predecessors as well, the Chinese netizens think.
As per the article published in The Diplomat, it is not just his appearance or policies, but the curiosity, astonishment, and “perhaps a dash of cynicism” that he evokes among the Chinese people, which is reflected in the word “laoxian”.
The author of the article goes on to say that it is rare for Chinese netizens to give a nickname to a foreign leader and that PM Modi’s stands out above all others. “Clearly he has made an impression on Chinese public opinion.”
Also amid the ongoing Ukraine-Russia war, which has pitted the United States and West against the Russia, as per the article, most Chinese feel that PM Modi’s India can maintain a balance among the major countries in the world. “Whether it is Russia, the US or Global South countries, India can enjoy friendly ties with all of them, which is very admirable to some Chinese netizens,” reads the article.
The article concludes that on the whole, the Chinese have no malice toward India, except in relation to the border dispute.
The Chinese and Indian armies have been engaged in stand-off since 2020 following aggressive military actions by the former in eastern Ladakh, violating the agreements to resolve the border dispute.
The two countries have held 17 rounds of high-level military commanders’ talks to resolve the stand-off.
Not just on the Chinese internet, Prime Minister Modi is well-known in China. He even interacted with the Chinese public through his account on microblogging site Sina Weibo which he opened in 2015 and had over 2.44 lakh followers.
However, he quit Weibo in July 2020 after the Indian government moved to ban 59 Chinese Apps following the border skirmish. The Chinese equivalent to Twitter, Sina Weibo, currently has over 582 million active users.
Also, soon after taking charge at the Centre for the first time in 2014, PM Modi hosted Chinese President Xi Jinping in Ahmedabad, followed by former Premier Li Keqiang.
The Diplomat article adds Chinese views of India are very complicated – but generally based on a sense of superiority and self-confidence.
The article also mentions the Chinese netizens’ views on having better ties with India than Pakistan as they believe China’s attempts to use its “all-weather ally” Pakistan as “unrealistic” as the “gap between the two South Asian neighbours is getting wider”. Pakistan lately has been embroiled in both political and economic meltdown.
“The facts over the past nine years have proved that China and India have more room for cooperation. For example, China’s trade with India is worth USD115 billion a year – far more than China’s trade with Pakistan, which sits at around USD 30 billion”, reads the article.
The article also mentions about Chinese apprehension of India’s growing popularity with the western countries, especially with the US, and New Delhi and Beijing being on the same page as far as the Ukraine crisis is concerned.
The article further mentions about one common debate among the Chinese netizens. “Why India is the favourite of the West, while China has become its target of the West. How did India manage this?”
Well, the answer was that most Chinese people, with “a sense of superiority and self-confidence” felt India was not developed enough to pose a threat to the West as China is.
(With inputs from agencies)

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