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Rediff.com  » News » Chinese research ship docks in Colombo amid security concerns from US, India

Chinese research ship docks in Colombo amid security concerns from US, India

Source: PTI
October 25, 2023 19:09 IST
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A Chinese research ship on Wednesday docked at Sri Lanka's Colombo port, officials in Colombo said, amid security concerns raised by the US over its visit.

IMAGE: The Chinese research vessel Yuan Wang 5 visited Sri Lanka last August. Photograph: ANI Photo

"Shi Yan 6 was given permission to enter the (Colombo) port for replenishment,” a Sri Lankan foreign ministry spokesperson told PTI.

According to sources, Sri Lanka was delaying granting permission for the arrival of Shi Yan 6 due to security concerns raised by India. However, there was no official confirmation of the same.

It was not clear how long the vessel would remain docked at the Colombo port.

The arrival of Shi Yan 6 followed President Ranil Wickremesinghe's visit to China last week.

 

In August, Colombo had announced that the Chinese research vessel is scheduled to arrive in October for marine research activities in collaboration with Sri Lanka's National Aquatic Resource Research and Development Agency (NARA).

Described as a research/survey vessel with a carrying capacity of 1,115 DWT, the vessel is reported to be overall 90.6 metres in length and width of 17 metres.

Last month, the US expressed concern to Sri Lanka about the scheduled visit of the Chinese research ship to the island nation.

US Under Secretary Victoria Nuland, who met Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Ali Sabry in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session, had reportedly raised concerns about the visit of Shi Yan 6.

China dispatches its research/surveillance vessels to Sri Lanka on a regular basis.

India has been raising concern over the visits of Chinese vessels in Lanka.

In August this year, the Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy warship Hai Yang 24 Hao arrived in Sri Lanka on a two-day visit. It was reported that the arrival of the 129-metre-long ship was delayed due to concerns raised by India.

In August last year, a similar visit by the Chinese ballistic missile and satellite tracking ship, Yuan Wang 5, which arrived in the southern Sri Lankan port of Hambantota, elicited strong reactions from India.

There were apprehensions in New Delhi about the possibility of the vessel's tracking systems attempting to snoop on Indian defence installations while being on its way to the Sri Lankan port. However, after a considerable delay, Sri Lanka allowed the ship to dock at the strategic southern port of Hambantota, being built by a Chinese company.

Cash-strapped Sri Lanka considers both India and China equally important partners in its task to restructure its external debt. China is one of the top lenders to Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka owes USD 7.1 billion to bilateral creditors, including USD 3 billion to China.

The island nation was hit by an unprecedented financial crisis in 2022, the worst since its independence from Britain in 1948, due to a severe paucity of foreign exchange reserves. 

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