National Security Advisor Ajit Doval has conveyed to top Chinese diplomat Wang Yi that situation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the western sector has “eroded strategic trust and the public and political basis of the relationship” and that normalcy can be restored in bilateral relations only after “impediments” are removed.

Doval, as per the Ministry of External Affairs, told this to Wang Yi in a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the BRICS NSA level talks in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Monday. But, the Chinese Foreign Ministry separately released a statement on the NSA level engagements to stress that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Xi Jinping in their meeting at G20 summit in Bali, last November, had already agreed on “stabilising” bilateral relations.

“At the end of last year, President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Modi reached an important consensus on stabilising China-India relations in Bali,” said the Chinese MFA statement. “The two sides should adhere to the strategic judgment of the leaders of the two countries that “they do not pose a threat to each other, and they are each other’s development opportunities,” the Chinese statement read while calling for “early” resumption of relations.

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The MEA, however, is silent on that aspect of the leadership engagement. It said, “NSA emphasised the importance of continuing efforts to fully resolve the situation and restore peace and tranqulity in the border areas, so as to remove impediments to normalcy in bilateral relations”.

And that, “The two sides agreed that the India-China bilateral relationship is significant not only for the two countries but also for the region and world”.

For long the Chinese have taken a public position to de-hyphenate bilateral talks with border issues, which is at crossroads with the official Indian stand reflected again in the MEA’s statement issued on Tuesday that resolving situation and restoring peace at the LAC was key to normalisation of the relationship.

The NSA level talks follow External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar’s recent meeting with Wang, Member of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Political Bureau and Director of the Office of the CPC Foreign Affairs Commission, in Jakarta, where outstanding border issues were discussed.

India is still to resolve two ‘friction points’ at Depsang and Demchok which are more complex and strategically crucial to India in comparison to earlier disengagements from Galwan, Gogra, Hotsprings and Pangong Tso post Galwan face-off between the two armies that led to death and injuries to soldiers from both the sides.