After spending 54 years trapped in India, a Chinese army veteran may soon be allowed to take a long-awaited trip back home.
India’s Ministry of External Affairs recently informed Wang Qi and his family that it had finally handled Wang’s request for an Indian passport. Wanting to waste no more time, Wang and his son plan to fly to China on Friday, Chinese state media reports.
Wang says that after more than five decades away from home, he is most looking forward to devouring some of his hometown’s specialty noodles.
After spending years trying to get government permission to visit his homeland, Wang can likely thank the BBC for the sudden breakthrough in his case. The news organization ran a story last month on Wang’s plight, drawing international attention to the subject.
In 1963, just after the conclusion of the Sino-Indian war, Wang, a Chinese army surveyor, got lost, crossed over the border, and was captured by Indian authorities. He then spent the next seven years moving between a number of jails. When he was finally released, police escorted him to a remote village in central India and told him to start a life there.
While Wang has made the best of his unexpected predicament, marrying a local girl and starting a family, he has long wished to travel home to see his family in China; however, he had curiously been denied official Indian documents and citizenship time and again.
A decade ago, he tried to obtain permission to go home to visit his elderly mother, but to no avail. She died in 2006 without seeing her “favorite son” again.
Last month, the BBC was able to facilitate a video chat between Wang and his 82-year-old brother living in Shaanxi province. The two hadn’t seen each other in over half a century. “I couldn’t recognize him. He looked so old. He said he was alive just for me,” Wang said afterwards.
After the BBC aired its report, the Chinese Embassy in India began to work hard to resolve Wang’s situation. On Monday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said China was “pushing India” to complete the procedures needed for Wang’s trip home. Lu added that:
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. 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.
After visiting his relatives in China, Wang has said that he wants to return back to India to be with his Indian wife, children and grandchildren.
“My family is here. Where would I go?” he told the BBC.
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