A Chinese research vessel docked at Sri Lanka’s Colombo port on Wednesday, officials here said, amid security concerns raised by the US over its visit.
“Shi Yan 6 was given permission to enter the (Colombo) port for resupply,” a Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry spokesperson told PTI.
According to PTI sources, Sri Lanka delayed granting approval for the arrival of Shi Yan 6 due to India’s security concerns. However, there is no official confirmation of this.
It was unclear how long the ship would remain in Colombo port.
The arrival of Shi Yan 6 follows President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s visit to China last week.
In August, Colombo had announced that the Chinese research vessel would arrive in October for marine research activities in collaboration with Sri Lanka’s National Aquatic Resource Research and Development Agency (NARA).
The vessel, described as a research/survey vessel with a deadweight capacity of 1,115 DWT, is said to have an overall length of 5.3 meters, an overall length of 90.6 meters and a width of 17 meters.
Last month, the US expressed concern to Sri Lanka over the Chinese research vessel’s planned visit to the island nation.
US Undersecretary of State Victoria Nuland, who met Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Ali Sabry in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly, had reportedly expressed concerns about the visit of “SHI YAN 6”.
China regularly sends its research and surveillance ships to Sri Lanka.
India has raised concerns over visits by Chinese ships to Lanka.
In August this year, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army warship HAI YANG 24 HAO arrived in Sri Lanka on a two-day visit. It was reported that the 129-meter-long ship’s arrival was delayed due to India’s concerns.
In August last year, a similar visit by the Chinese missile and satellite tracking ship Yuan Wang 5, which arrived at Hambantota port in southern Sri Lanka, sparked strong reactions from India.
There were fears in New Delhi that the ship’s tracking systems could attempt to spy on Indian defenses as it headed to the Sri Lankan port. However, after a significant delay, Sri Lanka allowed the ship to dock at the strategic southern port of Hambantota, built by a Chinese company.
Financially troubled Sri Lanka sees India and China as equally important partners in restructuring its external debt. China is one of the largest lenders to Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka owes $7.1 billion to bilateral creditors, including $3 billion to China.
The island nation was hit by an unprecedented financial crisis in 2022, the worst since its independence from Britain in 1948, due to a lack of foreign exchange reserves.
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Source : www.ndtv.com