China is “deeply upset” over Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s recent visit to Arunachal Pradesh, an official said on Tuesday in a statement that is bound to further heighten tensions on the long-running border dispute between India and China.

“Despite our grave concerns, an Indian leader went to the disputed area,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ma Zhaoxu told reporters here on Tuesday in a regular press briefing. “We hope the Indian side does not create problems on the border area so as to benefit the sound development of China-India relations.”

Election campaign

Mr. Singh visited Arunachal Pradesh on October 3, ahead of the State Assembly elections which were held on Monday. The Chinese statement comes 10 days after his visit. A likely reason is many government offices here remained closed last week on account of an eight day national holiday.

China’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement posted on its website on Tuesday, Beijing was “strongly dissatisfied with the visit to the disputed region by the Indian leader”, not directly naming the Prime Minister.

“We demand the Indian side address China's serious concerns and not trigger disturbance in the disputed region so as to facilitate the healthy development of China-India relations,” the statement said.

"Positive progress" in border talks

Recent months have seen heightened tensions along the border between the two countries. Last month, several reports of Chinese incursions into Indian territory in Ladakh were reported in the Indian media.

But both Indian and Chinese governments have played down the reports, suggesting the incursions were caused by different perceptions on both sides on the actual extent of the Line of Actual Control – the effective demarcation along the disputed border. India and China held the 13th round of talks to settle the long-running dispute in New Delhi in August. Officials in New Delhi and Beijing said the progress in the latest round was positive.

Objection to the Dalai Lama's visit

China has issued similar statements to Tuesday’s, often exactly worded, every time a prominent Indian leader has visited Arunachal Pradesh, parts of which China has claims on. The Chinese government recently said it “firmly opposed” the Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama’s visit to the State which is scheduled to take place next month.

Earlier this year, China attempted to block a $60 million Asian Development Bank flood management programme for the State.