BEIJING - China on Friday rebuked India for inviting exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama to visit a contested stretch of land on the India-China border , warning it would harm relations between the neighbours.

China claims more than 90,000 sq km of territory disputed by India in the eastern sector of the Himalayas. Much of that forms the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, which China calls South Tibet.

A senior aide to the Dalai Lama told Reuters the 80-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner had accepted an invitation from the state's chief minister and its people to visit Arunchal Pradesh.

"His Holiness looks forward to visit in the second week of March," said Tenzin Taklha.

A spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry said China was "firmly opposed to the Dalai Lama visiting the China-India border ," however, adding that it expected India to respect a bilateral consensus on the region.

"We hope India will not further complicate matters on the China-India border and will not give the Dalai Lama clique a platform for its anti-China separatist activities," Lu Kang told a regular press briefing. "Only in this way will the China-India relationship be able to develop in a healthy, stable way."

China regards the Dalai Lama as a separatist, though he says he merely seeks genuine autonomy for his Himalayan homeland, which Communist Chinese troops "peacefully liberated" in 1950.

"The Dalai Lama is a revered spiritual figure and an honoured guest of India . He is absolutely free to travel to any part of the country," a spokesman for India 's foreign ministry told reporters at a weekly briefing on Thursday, answering a query on the government's view of the opposition by China .

"He has a sizeable following among the Buddhists in Arunachal Pradesh who would like to seek his blessings. He has visited the state in the past as well, and we see nothing unusual if he visits it again."

US Ambassador to India Richard Verma visited Arunachal Pradesh this month, with China retorting it was "firmly opposed" to the US diplomat's action.

Disagreement between nuclear-armed China and India over parts of their 3,500-km (2,175-mile) border led to a brief war in 1962. They have moved to control the dispute, but repeated rounds of talks have made little progress. India says China occupies 38,000 square km (14,600 sq miles) of its territory on the Aksai Chin plateau in the west. Tensions occasionally flare over the disputed border . In August, China was angered by India 's plans to place advanced cruise missiles there.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Japan next month for an annual summit, India said Friday, with the Asian giants expected to deepen defence ties to counter an assertive China and ink a civil nuclear deal. Modi will have an audience with Emperor Akihito and hold talks with his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe during the two-day visit starting on November 11, the foreign ministry said. The two men, both right-wing nationalists and economic reformers, have forged an unusually close relationship since the Indian leader came to power in 2014.

In a statement India 's foreign ministry said the meeting would be "an occasion for the two leaders to have in-depth exchanges on bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest", without giving details.

Media reports said they may sign a civil nuclear cooperation pact after failing to do so at their last meeting, citing outstanding technical and legal differences.  The long-mooted agreement is expected to allow Japan to export its nuclear plant technologies to the subcontinent.

Japan has in the past shunned civil nuclear cooperation with India , which has not ratified the international Non-Proliferation Treaty, but appears to have softened its stance. Closer defence and security ties, including joint maritime exercises, are also likely to be on the agenda. China is expanding its deep-water naval presence and has staked claims to disputed areas of the East and South China Sea and Indian Ocean region, parts of which Japan also claims.

India has a longstanding territorial dispute with China , and troops from the two countries engaged in a major stand-off at the border in 2014.

Tokyo has its own spat with Beijing over islands in the East China Sea, and is increasingly vocal over its ambitions to control almost the whole of the South China Sea.

Modi visited Japan in August 2014 on his first bilateral trip outside South Asia months after coming to power.

Subsequently Abe paid a two-day visit to India last December when both premiers agreed on a slew of deals, including India 's first bullet train, defence technology and civil nuclear cooperation.