China on Monday said it was "pushing India" to complete procedures to return a Chinese soldier who is stuck in India for over 50 years, even as its envoy to New Delhi spoke to him over phone and assured all help.
Chinese ambassador to India Luo Zhaohui just had a telephonic call with soldier Wang Qi, Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told media here today answering questions on the status of the soldier's return to China.
"In recent years, Chinese Embassy to India had kept in close touch with Wang Qi and made relentless effort to help him return to China including pushing Indian side on exit and entry procedures for him," he said.
"In 2013, the Embassy issued a 10-year Chinese passport to him and provided 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 himself, the case will be properly solved," he said.
Wang says he was caught in 1963, a year after India-China war when he strayed into Indian side.
After his release from prison in 1969, Wang shifted to Tirodi village in Madhya Pradesh where he married a local woman and settled there ever since. He had three children and grand children.
Asked what would happen to Wang's wife and children, Lu referred to the ambassador's phone conversation with Wang.
In his conversation, Ambassador Luo expressed sympathy over the suffering Wang underwent over the years.
"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," he said, according to a statement in Chinese language posted on China's embassy website in New Delhi.
"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 that Wang has to make a "thoughtful and appropriate choice".
It appears that both India and China have left the choice to Wang.
While he wants to visit China to meet relatives, he also wants to return back to be with his Indian wife and children which may be a problem for India considering his background.
Wang s plight has been highlighted recently in the Chinese media following a BBC television report on him.
Helping Wang to return to home will enhance mutual understanding and contribute to warming bilateral ties, state-run Global Times said in oped page article few days ago.
"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 article said.
"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," it said.