DELHI: Vikas, a store owner in Delhi, likes doing business with China because the Chinese are cost effective, offer a variety of products and deliver their goods quickly to buyers.

“For example, if you want 10,000 pieces of an item, you can get it, I would say, 10 days,” said Vikas, who sells incense, ornaments and other decorative items.

Language becomes less of a barrier as “they start speaking good English”, he added. “In nature, they are good people.”

Companies such as Vikas helped trade between the two countries peak at US$125 billion (S$171.5 billion) last year. But his goodwill toward China may not currently be shared at the highest levels of government.

Relations between India and China have been strained since mid-2020, when their troops clashed in Ladakh’s Galwan Valley. Both have claimed incursions on the other side, into disputed border territory.

At least 20 Indian soldiers were killed in June 2020, while China reportedly lost four soldiers. The deaths were the first at the 3,440km border, called the Line of Actual Control, in 45 years.

Since then, the two countries have reportedly assembled nearly 60,000 troops each on the border.

In March, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi made a surprise trip to Delhi in search of normal relations. According to Indian media, his trip was also to assess whether India would attend the BRICS summit that China will host this month.

Wang said, “The two sides should (…) put differences on the border issue in an appropriate position in bilateral relations and adhere to the good direction of developing bilateral relations.”