China has been unable to secure the return of one its soldiers stranded in India since 1963 despite relentless efforts to convince India to complete formalities and paperwork, the foreign ministry said on Monday.
Wang Qi, a surveyor with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), was captured in India after he crossed the border in 1963. More than 53 years later, Wang lives in India in Tirodi village, a five-hour drive from Nagpur.
After his release from jail in 1969, Wang married an Indian woman and they have three children. Wang’s case has been highlighted in the Indian media and most recently, a BBC report brought up his plight again.
Subsequently, the Chinese media widely reported the issue and, on Monday, foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang was asked about developments in the case at a regular news conference.
Lu said the Chinese embassy in India has “made a lot of the efforts” to get Wang back.
“In recent years, Chinese embassy to India had kept in close touch with Wang Qi and made relentless efforts to help him return to China, including pushing the Indian side on exit and entry procedures for him,” Lu said.
“In 2013, the embassy issued a 10-year Chinese passport to him and provided a living allowance for him every year since then. I believe that with the joint efforts of China and India, and respecting the will of Wang Qi himself, the case will be properly solved.”
He added, “The Chinese embassy has not only kept in close touch with Mr Wang Qi and his family, we have also been in close touch with the Indian side on this case.”
Chinese ambassador Luo Zhaohui too has spoken to Wang and assured him of all help.
“I instructed the embassy to keep in touch with you, to know your ideas and provide assistance as much as possible, including the replacement of your passport,” Luo said, according to a statement in Chinese posted on the Chinese embassy’s website.
“We have been in contact with the government of India regarding your visit to China. We also fully understand that you have relatives in China. In India, you have a wife, children and grandchildren. Both countries have relatives who are part of family,” Luo said, adding Wang has to make a “thoughtful and appropriate choice”.
The state-run Global Times said in a report last week: “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.”
The tabloid added, “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.”