The Sri Lankan government on Saturday authorised a contentious Chinese research vessel to visit the island, despite India's worries
Nrw Delhi: The Sri Lankan government on Saturday authorised a contentious Chinese research vessel to visit the island. Despite India’s worries that the Chinese ship could spy on New Delhi’s military facilities.
International shipping and analytics websites refer to the Yuan Wang 5 as a research and survey vessel, but Indian media reports say that it is actually a dual-purpose surveillance ship.
Beijing’s expanding presence in the Indian Ocean and influence in Sri Lanka raise suspicion in New Delhi, which sees both as firmly within its area of influence.
The Chinese-run Hambantota port in Sri Lanka was scheduled to receive the Yuan Wang 5 on August 11, but Colombo requested Beijing to postpone the visit indefinitely after India raised concerns.
However, Sri Lanka’s harbour master, Nirmal P. Silva, claimed that he had obtained permission from the foreign ministry for the ship to call in Hambantota from August 16 to 22.
According to officials in the foreign ministry, Colombo had extended the first clearance for the visit, which had been given on July 12—the day before the former president, Gotabaya Rajapaksa, fled the country after months of unrest over the nation’s worst-ever economic crisis.
Sri Lanka paid $1.4 billion to a Chinese company to build the port. Sri Lanka leased it to China for 99 years for $1.12 billion.
The Indian government has expressed concern that it may be doing some spying activities. India’s foreign ministry has been monitoring the situation minutely and taking all precautions.