A warship of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army with enhanced surveillance capabilities reached Sri Lanka on 10th August. It will be berthed at the Port of Colombo till August 12th, per the Sri Lankan Navy.
This incident comes a year after a Chinese vessel visit strained diplomatic relations between Sri Lanka and India.
This year, the Chinese warship ‘Hai Yang 24 Hao’ has arrived in Colombo for a formal or official visit, per a media statement by Sri Lankan Navy.
The 129 m long vessel with 138 member crew is commanded by Jin Xin. According to media reports, Sri Lanka delayed the arrival of the ship due to issues and concerns raised by India.
Colombo newspaper Daily Mirror reported that though China took permission regarding the visit from Sri Lanka much earlier, the permission for the same was delayed by the latter due to pressure and resistance from its powerful neighbour.
Sri Lankan officials have denied these allegations and said that India did not raise any issue over the Chinese vessel’s visit through official means.
Ministry of Defence spokesman Col. Nalin Herath said that India is aware of this strategic visit and has not raised any concern in this regard, adding that both nations are on the same page.
The spokesperson of the Sri Lankan Navy, Capt Gayan Wickramasuriya, stated that all ships coming for strategic visits follow a standard process before arriving at any of the ports in the country.
Firstly, the local ministry writes to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which permits after discussions with the Defense Ministry.
Then, the Defense Ministry gives directions to the Navy, and this is how it works.
The Indian Newspaper Hindu requested the Indian High Commission in Colombo for a comment. However, they haven’t responded yet.
On 17th July, 2023, Sri Lanka’s Cabinet gave approval to a proposal by President Ranil Wickremesinghe for a standard operating procedure to be followed, while giving diplomatic clearance to foregin ships, foregin governments or military aircraft visiting the island nation.
The proposal comes after India-Sri Lanka ties experienced tensions due to the visit of a chinese military vessel in 2022.
The move came after Indo-Lanka ties witnessed a strain during the Chinese military vessel’s visit last year.
On 16th August 2022, Chinese satellite tracking ship Yuan Wang 5 reached Colombo’s Hambantota Port, inspite of the concerns raised by the US and India.
Pressure from the two global powers put Sri Lanka in a tight position as it asked China to defer the visit. India raised concerns at the highest levels even though it helped its neighbour at the time of its crucial financial crisis.
China’s active engagement with Sri Lanka raises concerns for many obvious reasons. Also, in may 2023, Sri Lanka permitted the chinese government owned China Merchants Group to construct a logisitics complex at Port of Colombo, costing around 400 million dollars.
Reference: News18, The Hindu
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