China on Thursday warned India of a “geopolitical game”, saying New Delhi could not “afford the consequence” if the two countries became “open rivals.”

In a hard-hitting editorial, the Global Times said India “probably overestimates its leverage in the bilateral ties with China”. It said the two countries have “benefitted from the good momentum of bilateral relationship”.

It said that China’s military and economic prowess exceeded that of India “coupled with the fact that India's turbulent northern state borders China”, a veiled reference to Jammu and Kashmir. “If China engages in a geopolitical game with India, will Beijing lose to New Delhi?”

The editorial was written in wake of India's decision to host Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama on a contested stretch of land on the India-China border.

The Dalai Lama's week-long trip to Arunchal Pradesh, an eastern Himalayan region administered by New Delhi, but claimed by China as "southern Tibet", has raised hackles in Beijing, which labels the monk a dangerous separatist.

"China expresses firm opposition to this and will lodge stern representations with the Indian side," foreign ministry spokeswomen Hua Chunying told a regular briefing in Beijing.

Indian officials have dismissed China's criticism of the Dalai Lama's second visit to Arunachal Pradesh in eight years, saying he is a spiritual leader who has a devoted following in the region.

"His visit to this part of the country is totally religious," the state's chief minister, Pema Khandu, told Reuters Television.

"As far as the boundary issue is concerned, I have also maintained that we don't share our boundary with China, but we share our boundary with Tibet."

China has repeatedly criticised visits by foreign officials to Arunachal Pradesh, which it calls South Tibet and over which it has a long-standing claim.

In its latest broadside, Beijing said that by ignoring China's concerns and persisting in arranging the trip, India had "severely damaged China's interests and China-India relations".

"We demand that India immediately cease using the Dalai Lama's mistaken behaviour to damage China's interests," Hua added. "It will not bring any benefit to India. China will take necessary measures to firmly safeguard its territorial sovereignty and legitimate rights."