Chinese research ship Yuan Wang 5 arrives in Sri Lanka amid India's security concerns
Chinese ship in Sri Lanka: Despite security concerns raised by India, the Chinese research vessel Yuan Wang 5 reached Sri Lanka's Hambantota Port this morning, reported Daily Mirror. The ship was welcomed by Sri Lankan port officials and Chinese officials from the ship company. Earlier, the ship was slated to arrive on August 11, but Sri Lanka’s foreign ministry asked to postpone the docking until further consultations took place.
The ministry said last weekend that the ship was given permission to dock in Hambantota until August 22. It said the two sides had agreed the ship would keep its identification systems on and would not carry out any research activities while in Sri Lanka waters.
Sri Lanka said it was postponing the ship’s arrival because of concerns raised with the ministry but didn’t identify who had raised them. Security concerns of neighbouring India over the ship’s proximity to its southern borders likely factor in.
India on Monday gifted a maritime reconnaissance aircraft to Sri Lanka to strengthen its maritime security. The Indian embassy said Sri Lanka’s navy and air force personnel who were trained India will operate the aircraft with operational support from Indian personnel.
India’s foreign ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said earlier that India was aware of a planned visit by the vessel and that it carefully monitors any development that affects its security and economic interests and will take all measures to safeguard them.
China has been vying to expand its influence in Sri Lanka, which sits along one of the busiest shipping routes in what India considers part of its strategic backyard.
India has provided crucial assistance including food, fuel, medicines and cooking gas to the Indian Ocean nation as it struggles with an economic meltdown amid a severe foreign currency crisis. At the same time, China’s agreement to restructure its infrastructure loans to Sri Lanka is vital for the country to be able to reach a bailout program with the International Monetary Fund.
(With AP Inputs)
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