India-China relations have remained tense since their largest military confrontation in decades on the disputed Himalayan border.

China is urging India to resume direct passenger flights after a four-year hiatus, but New Delhi is resisting due to ongoing border tensions, officials said.

Relations between the two nations have been strained since a major military clash on the disputed Himalayan border in June 2020 resulted in the deaths of 20 Indian and at least four Chinese soldiers. Thousands of troops remain stationed on both sides.

In response to the clash, India has restricted Chinese investments, banned numerous popular apps, and halted passenger routes, although cargo flights continue.

While direct flights would benefit both economies, China stands to gain more as its overseas travel recovery lags post-COVID-19, while India’s aviation sector is booming.

Over the past year, China’s government and airlines have repeatedly requested India’s civil aviation authorities to restore direct air links, with one source noting China views this as a “big issue.”

“We hope the Indian side will work with China in the same direction for the early resumption of direct flights,” China’s Foreign Ministry told Reuters, stating it would benefit both countries.

However, a senior Indian official emphasized that peace on the border is essential for any progress in bilateral relations. Indian airlines are in discussions with New Delhi, while Chinese carriers are in talks with their government about resuming direct routes, according to Indigo CEO Pieter Elbers.

India’s external affairs and civil aviation ministries did not respond to requests for comment.

Beijing has repeatedly protested India’s increased scrutiny of Chinese businesses since 2020. Chinese smartphone giant Xiaomi informed India’s government this year that “confidence building” measures are needed, citing compliance and visa issues affecting component suppliers’ willingness to set up in India.