Ananth Krishnan

BEIJING: China on Tuesday expressed “strong dissatisfaction” over Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s recent visit to Arunachal Pradesh and accused India of “stirring up trouble” along the disputed border areas, a statement that has further heightened tensions between the two countries.

Beijing was “deeply upset” over Mr. Singh’s October 3 visit to the State, which came ahead of Tuesday’s Assembly elections, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ma Zhaoxu told reporters here at a regular press briefing.

“Despite our grave concerns, an Indian leader went to the disputed area,” he said. “We urge the Indian side to take China’s solemn concerns seriously and to not stir up trouble at the disputed area with a view to ensuring the sound development of China-India relations.”

Tuesday’s statement came 10 days after Mr. Singh’s visit, and on the day Arunachal Pradesh voted. A likely reason for the delay, officials said, was many government offices here remained closed last week on account of an eight-day national holiday.

China’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement on Tuesday morning saying Beijing was “strongly dissatisfied with the visit to the disputed region by the Indian leader,” not directly naming the Prime Minister.

In another strongly-worded statement issued later on Tuesday, China accused India of “disregarding China’s grave concerns” and “stirring up trouble.” China has issued similar statements in the past when prominent Indian leaders have visited the State, parts of which China has claims on.

The two countries held the 13th round of talks to settle the long-running border dispute in August. The talks have made little headway, although officials in New Delhi and Beijing said after the latest round progress had been positive.

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