Sri Lanka Bans Chinese Research Ships From Its Ports For A Year

India has been notified by Sri Lanka that for one year, no Chinese research vessel would be permitted to dock at its seaports or operate inside its exclusive economic zone. Following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s entreaties for President Ranil Wickremesinghe to honour Indian strategic as well as security concerns, action was taken. The Chinese research ship Xiang Yang Hong 3 will not be authorized to undertake deepwater exploration in the south Indian Ocean as a result of Sri Lanka’s decision.

Per persons with knowledge of the situation, Sri Lanka has notified India that it will not permit any Chinese research ship to operate within the exclusive economic zone or dock at its ports for a year. The action was taken shortly after President Ranil Wickremesinghe was urged by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to respect India’s strategic as well as security concerns on July 21, 2023.

Research Ship
Representation Image

According to the individuals mentioned above, India received word of the imposed ban last week via high-level diplomatic channels. This implies that Sri Lankan authorities would not approve the Chinese scientific research ship Xiang Yang Hong 3, which was supposed to carry out “deep water exploration” in the south Indian Ocean from January 5, 2024, to late May. China has also requested permission for the 4,600-tonne ship headquartered in Xiamen to perform a survey off the coast of Male by the prevailing pro-Beijing Mohammed Muizzu administration in the Maldives.

Following the US and India’s red-flagged Colombo entertained Chinese scientific research vessels as well as ballistic missile monitors in the Indian Ocean and offering them with logistical support, the Wickremesinghe government announced the one-year moratorium last week, according to the individuals. India objected to the Chinese research vessel Shi Yan 6 working with Sri Lanka’s maritime agency to conduct a joint maritime survey in October and November. Still, Colombo granted the vessel permission to dock at its seaport following Wickremesinghe’s October 17–18 visit to Beijing for the Belt Road Initiative’s tenth anniversary.

On October 25, the research vessel arrived in Colombo, and on December 2, it navigated the Malacca Straits. The objections against Xiang Yang Hong 3 and Shi Yan 6, who was scheduled to return to Sri Lanka in March, were conveyed by top Indian diplomatic interlocutors to Wickremesinghe.

In the past, Chinese research ships, hydrographic vessels, and ballistic missile trackers have reached the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) and surveyed the 90-degree ridge that is to the south of the Andaman Islands in depth. For instance, during August 10–24, the Shupang-class hydrographic vessel Deng Jiaxian was stationed in the IOR. On August 28, the ship re-entered the Indian Ocean through the Sunda Straits, and it left the region early in September 2023 via the Lombok/Ombai Wetar Straits. The same boat was spotted exploring the Philippines Sea on September 11.

To the dismay of India and the US, at least 25 Chinese ships, including research vessels, ballistic missile trackers, PLA warships, and submarines, operated in the Indian Ocean region this year. 48 Chinese scientific research ships have been involved in incidents since 2019. Their area of activity has been close to the eastern and western coastlines of India and in the deep Indian Ocean.

Reference: HT

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