Prime Minister Narendra Modi is reverentially called ‘Modi Laoxian’ meaning ‘Modi the immortal’ by Chinese netizens, a rare respectful reference to an international leader, notwithstanding the bitter India-China border row, according to an article published in the US-based strategic affairs magazine The Diplomat. In the article — ‘How is India viewed in China?’, Mu Chunshan, a journalist known for analysing Chinese social media, especially Sina Weibo, (akin to Twitter in China), also said that most Chinese feel that India led by Modi can maintain a balance among major countries in the world. Sina Weibo has over 582 million active users.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi has an unusual nickname on the Chinese internet: Modi Laoxian. Laoxian refers to an elderly immortal with some weird abilities. The nickname implies that Chinese netizens think Modi is different – even more amazing – than other leaders,” he said.
They point to both his dress and physical appearance, seen as Laoxian-like, and some of his policies,which are different from India’s previous ones, Mu said.
On India’s relations with other major countries, he said, whether it is Russia, the United States, or Global South countries, India can enjoy friendly ties with all of them, which is “very admirable” to some Chinese netizens.
“So the word ‘Laoxian’ reflects the complex sentiment of Chinese people toward Modi, combining curiosity, astonishment, and perhaps a dash of cynicism,” Mu wrote.
“I have been doing international media reports for nearly 20 years and it is rare for Chinese netizens to give a nickname to a foreign leader. Modi’s nickname stands out above all others. Clearly, he has made an impression on Chinese public opinion,” he said.