Chinese Research Vessel To Dock In Sri Lanka, Sparking Security Concerns In India

China has requested permission for a research vessel to dock in Sri Lanka, per Colombo’s report on Tuesday, after a visit by a spacecraft-tracking ship in 2022 that sparked security concerns from India.

Priyanga Wickramasinghe, Sri Lanka’s foreign ministry spokesperson, said Beijing had asked for permission for the Shi Yan 6 to dock. Still, no date has been finalized, and the request is also under process.

Chinese Research Vessel
Representation Image

China’s state broadcaster, CGTN, called the Shi Yan 6, is a scientific research vessel crewed by 60 that carries out oceanography, marine ecology, and marine geology tests.

Last year, India had raised its concerns over a Sri Lankan port call in Hambantota by Chinese research vessel titled Yuan Wang 5, which specializes in spacecraft tracking and which New Delhi described as a spy vessel.

India is highly suspicious of China’s growing presence in the Indian Ocean and its expanding influence in Sri Lanka, observing both as firmly within its domain of power.

Besides, Sri Lanka is placed halfway strategically along the key east-west international shipping routes.

Last year, Colombo tried to address New Delhi’s issues by telling China not to engage in research activities while in Sri Lankan waters.

China has operated the Hambantota port since 2017, when they took it on a 99-year lease for $1.12 billion, less than the $1.4 billion that Sri Lanka paid a Chinese company to develop it.

Last year, China said it was unjustified for some nations to cite security issues to pressure Sri Lanka.

China owns about 52% of cash-strapped Sri Lankan bilateral debt, and Beijing’s support is essential for Colombo’s efforts to restructure foreign loans.

Colombo reportedly defaulted on $46 billion external debt last year in April and must restructure finances as part of an International Monetary Fund bailout.

References: The Hindu, SCMP, Times Of India

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