India on Thursday reiterated that Arunachal Pradesh is an integral part of the country even as China made public its concerns about Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to that state last month.
"We have already said what we have to say on this issue," official sources said when asked about comments of the Chinese foreign ministry.
Last week, responding to an informal protest by Chinese officials, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said, "Arunachal Pradesh is an integral part of India. It has regularly elected representatives to our parliament."
"The prime minister can visit any part of India he likes," Mukherjee told reporters in Mumbai.
"We are aware of the stand of China and they are aware of ours," he said pointedly.
Mukherjee's swift dismissal of the Chinese protest indicated a more assertive policy by India in Arunachal Pradesh in the wake of growing disappointment in New Delhi over the lack of progress in the border talks between the Special Representatives of the two countries.
"Regarding Mr Singh's visit to that area (Arunachal Pradesh), we have expressed our concern. Our position (on the issue) is clear," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao told a bi-weekly news briefing in Beijing on Thursday.
"We hope that China and India will continue with consultations and negotiations which is good for peace and stability of the region. I believe both China and India are aware of this," he added. He, however, underlined the ongoing efforts by both countries to resolve their decades-old boundary dispute.
The Chinese official's response confirming a protest by Beijing comes amid reports about India's plan to build a greenfield airport in Arunachal Pradesh's Tawang district, an area in claimed by China as part of its territory.
A junior Chinese official had lodged "an informal verbal protest" to the Indian embassy in Beijing last week.
During his visit to Itanagar late last month, Manmohan Singh called Arunachal as 'our land of the rising sun' - an expression that did not go down well with Beijing for obvious reasons.
'The sun kisses India first in Arunachal Pradesh. It is our land of the rising sun. I sincerely hope that like the sun, Arunachal Pradesh will rise from the East as a new star and become one of the best regions of our country,' Manmohan Singh said.