China’s official Xinhua news agency on Saturday reiterated Beijing’s territorial claims on Arunachal Pradesh, coinciding with the two-day visit of President Pranab Mukherjee to the State.

In a report, Xinhua said China saw the state as being “currently under Indian illegal occupation”.

“The so-called ‘Arunachal Pradesh’ was established largely on the three areas of China’s Tibet - Monyul, Loyul and Lower Tsayul currently under Indian illegal occupation,” the Xinhua report said.

“These three areas," it added, "located between the illegal ‘Mcmahon Line’ and the traditional customary boundary between China and India, have always been Chinese territory. In 1914, the colonialists secretly

contrived the illegal ‘Mcmahon Line’ in an attempt to incorporate into India the above-mentioned three areas of Chinese territory. None of the successive Chinese governments have ever recognised this line,” the report issued by the official State-run news agency said.

The report follows a statement issued here on Friday by the Chinese Foreign Ministry, which, in response to the President’s visit, said “China’s position on the disputed area of the eastern section of the China-India boundary is consistent and clear-cut.”

“The China-India relationship maintains a sound momentum of growth," the statement added, calling on “the Indian side could meet China halfway to safeguard the overall interests of bilateral relations, refrain from taking actions that complicate the boundary question, work together with us to maintain peace and tranquillity in the border areas and create conditions for boundary negotiations.”

The statement was, however, less strident than China’s response to the visit by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Arunachal Pradesh in 2009, when an increasingly assertive Chinese government said it was “deeply

upset” and expressed “grave concerns”, and publicly opposed the visit.

It remained unclear whether the Xinhua report was issued in response to Friday’s speech by President Pranab Mukherjee to the Arunachal Pradesh Legislative Assembly. Drawing upon the State’s historical and cultural importance, the President said the State “finds mention in the Puranas and the Mahabharata”.

“It is believed that here Sage Parashuram washed away his sins, Sage Vyasa meditated, King Bhishmaka founded his kingdom and Lord Krishna married his consort Rukmini,” he said.  “Arunachal is also home to the

400-year-old Tawang Monastry and the birth place of the sixth Dalai Lama, Tsangyang Gyatso,” he added.

The President made clear that Arunachal Pradesh “is an integral and important part of the North East region of India and a core stakeholder in India’s Look East foreign policy.”

China claims as much as 90,000 sq km of territory along the eastern section of the disputed border with India, including the Tawang region. In the western sector, India claims 30,000 sq km that is currently under Chinese occupation, in the Aksai Chin region.

Both sides have held 16 rounds of talks through their Special Representatives - with the last meeting in Beijing in June - and are currently negotiating a framework to settle the dispute in western, middle and eastern sectors. In 2005, both sides agreed on political parameters on guiding principles, which said both sides would “safeguard due interests of their settled populations in the border areas”.

However, China’s particular claims on Tawang, which Beijing sees as linked to the sensitive question of its sovereignty over Tibet, has emerged as a particular sticking point in the talks, which remain

deadlocked after 16 rounds.