India Defies China’s Bid to Restore Direct Flights


India remains steadfast in its refusal to resume direct passenger flights with China, despite persistent pressure from Beijing amidst ongoing border tensions. The diplomatic deadlock, spanning four years, follows a violent clash in 2020 that claimed lives on both sides along their disputed Himalayan boundary, keeping relations strained.

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Since the conflict, India has imposed stringent measures against Chinese interests, including investment restrictions and app bans, in addition to halting passenger flights while maintaining cargo routes. This stance underscores New Delhi’s insistence that peace on the border must precede any normalization of relations.

China, facing challenges in its post-pandemic recovery, sees the resumption of flights as pivotal for its economic rebound, contrasting with India’s burgeoning aviation sector, now experiencing robust growth. Despite China’s appeals, which it views as crucial for bilateral interests, Indian authorities have not relented, underscoring the broader geopolitical tensions affecting the region.

Efforts by Chinese carriers to engage their government and counterparts in India have yet to yield progress, as Indian airlines continue consultations with New Delhi. The impasse reflects deeper strategic considerations, with both nations keenly aware of the economic benefits at stake, yet constrained by unresolved geopolitical issues.

While both sides acknowledge the potential gains from direct flights, the geopolitical landscape dictates that any breakthrough hinges on the resolution of broader bilateral disputes. As such, the fate of direct air connectivity between these Asian giants remains uncertain, with ramifications extending beyond aviation into the broader geopolitical arena.

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