Amid worries in India, Chinese “Spy” ship is permitted to dock at Lanka Port

Less than the $1.4 billion Sri Lanka paid to a Chinese company to build the port, Sri Lanka leased it to China for 99 years for $1.12 billion.

Despite India’s worries that the controversial Chinese research vessel could spy on New Delhi’s military facilities, Sri Lanka’s government has permitted a Chinese “Spy” ship to visit the island, officials said on Saturday.

According to Indian media, the Yuan Wang 5 is a dual-purpose surveillance ship even though international shipping and analytics sites classify it as a research and survey vessel.

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Beijing is expanding its influence in the Indian Ocean and in Sri Lanka, and New Delhi is wary of both since it considers them to be firmly inside its area of influence.

The Chinese-run Hambantota port in Sri Lanka was scheduled to receive the Yuan Wang 5 on August 11, but Colombo requested Beijing to postpone the visit indefinitely after India raised concerns.
Nirmal P. Silva, however, Sri Lanka’s harbour master, claimed that he had obtained permission from the foreign ministry for the ship to call in Hambantota from August 16 to 22.

India had expressed its concerns to President Ranil Wickremesinghe directly, according to Sri Lankan government officials, but the nation did not provide an “acceptable response” as to why the ship should not be permitted to dock.

The Chinese ship, according to port officials, was reportedly some 1,000 kilometres southeast of Sri Lanka on Friday night and was slowly making its way to the Hambantota deep sea port.

The Yuan Wang 5 might be used for satellite and space tracking, and it has particular applications in the launch of intercontinental ballistic missiles, according to sources in the Indian government.

The administration, however, insisted that it will make decisions based on its security concerns and refuted China’s “insinuations” that New Delhi exerted pressure on Colombo to forgo the ship’s visit.