Chinese ship makes controversial Sri Lanka visit — Analysis

The docking of the vessel was delayed because India and America considered it a spy boat.

One week after arriving in Sri Lanka by a Chinese ship for naval research, it docked Tuesday in the port of Beijing in Sri Lanka. China refers to the ship conducting scientific research. “marine scientific research,”According to Indian sources, it is called a “dual-use spy vessel.”

According to the AP report, Yuan Wang 5 moored itself in Hambantota port and was welcome by Chinese and Sri Lankan officials. It is situated on Sri Lanka’s south coast. The port at Hambantota, built in China by Chinese contractors, was leased to Beijing when Sri Lanka couldn’t pay its construction expenses. 

The arrival of the ship was initially scheduled for last week but was pushed back at Sri Lanka’s request. The country’s foreign ministry cited “certain concerns”In requesting the delay

Indian Minister of External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken both personally objected to the ship’s visit when they met with Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Ali Sabry in Cambodia earlier this month, the Hindustan Times reported. While New Delhi has not acknowledged these claims, Indian media has been highly critical of the Yuan Wang 5’s arrival, with several outlets describing it as a ship with intelligence-gathering capabilities.

China flexes military muscle near Taiwan

According to a 2021 Pentagon report, the Yuan Wang 5 is operated by the Strategic Support Force of China’s People’s Liberation Army. It was stated in the report that Yuan Wang class ships could be used for monitoring satellite, rocket, and missile launches.

India’s concerns stem from the fact that the Yuan Wang 5 “is a powerful vessel whose significant aerial reach — reportedly around 750 km — means that several ports in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh could be on China’s radar,”The Indian Express published a Sunday report.

These concerns were dismissed by China however. “The marine scientific research activities of the Yuan Wang 5 ship are consistent with international law and international customary practice,”A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin spoke at a press conference Tuesday. “They do not affect the security and economic interests of any country and should not be obstructed by any third party.”

Ranil Wickremesinghe of Sri Lanka stated that China won’t be allowed to use Hambantota port for military purposes.

The vessel “did not come under the category of military. [It] came under the category of a research ship,” Wickremesinghe said in an interview with Japan’s Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper on Sunday. “That is how [we] permitted the ship to come to Hambantota.”

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