The relationship between China and India is not “normal” for “reasons well known”, Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar acknowledged on Wednesday at a Columbia University event in New York. He said it was India’s foreign policy focus to bring the ties with China “back to normal”. The countries remain locked in a border dispute dating back to the 1962 Indo-China war. Although troops have begun to disengage after two years of talks since the May 2020 border clashes that killed at least 11 Indian and four Chinese soldiers, the situation remains tense and uncertain. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping held two informal summits in 2018 and 2019. But the bonhomie came to sudden halt after the bloody skirmishes in 2020. Last week, Modi and Xi were seen ignoring each other during a photo-op at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation meeting in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. Christopher Clary, a professor of international affairs at the University of Albany in New York, said that New Delhi was facing “muted but real criticism” for its recent pullback along the border. “The tale on the ground is that China remains on territory India patrolled in the not too distant past,” he said, adding the deal required the creation of a “no-man’s land on territory that India could access prior to 2020”. Jaishankar, who arrived in the US on Sunday for an 11-day visit and will be addressing world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly on Saturday, is scheduled to attend the BRICS foreign ministers’ meeting on Thursday. Though his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi will also be there, neither side has plans to sit down for a one-on-one talk. Chinese and Indian leaders continue to keep each other at arm’s length BRICS, founded in 2009, is an association of the emerging economies of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Stressing that it was in the mutual interest of both India and China to find a way to accommodate each other, Jaishankar noted that the “very complex problem” today was “how do two rising powers in absolute proximity find a modus vivendi”. He said while China’s economic success had “mitigated” India’s “fantastic” growth, the rise of Asia was “contingent” on how the region’s two biggest economies get along with each other.