Chinese Research Vessel Headed To Maldives Sparks Security Concerns In India

India is keeping a close eye on the movements of a spy vessel from China, or what Beijing refers to as an ocean research vessel, which is scheduled to reach the Maldives in the coming week. The ship is similar to the one operating close to Sri Lanka, to which India objected.

The research vessel, Xiang Yang Hong 03, stepped into the Indian Ocean Region (famous as the IOR) on Monday via the Sunda Strait of Indonesia. The vessel is likely to reach the Maldives by the first week of February, per an Indian air defence establishment official. The vessel was moving toward the Maldives when Sri Lanka did not permit it to dock at the ports. The Indian Navy has closely been supervising its movements.

Research Vessel
Image Credits: Damien Symon/Twitter

The Navy typically keeps track of these vessels using its fleet, comprising P-81 long-range maritime patrol aircraft and war vessels. These vessels are not military vessels officially. However, it will result in concerns for India and others regarding the military use of research.

Relations between the Maldives and India have strained since the time President Muizzu took office in November 2023, shifting the government’s focus toward China and requesting the withdrawal of close to 80 Indian troops placed in the Maldives, according to a Reuters report. The vessel is likely to reach Maldives in a couple of weeks.

India has been raising concerns about China’s evolving presence in the Indian Ocean and its influence in Sri Lanka, which is strategically halfway along the crucial east-west international shipping channels.

Reference: TOI

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