Chinese ‘spy ship’ Yuan Wang 5 docks in Sri Lanka despite Indian concern

Photo Credit: BBC News

A Chinese research ship has docked in Sri Lanka’s Hambantota port despite Indian concerns.

The Yuan Wang 5 was given permission to dock on the condition it would not carry out research while in Sri Lankan waters, said port officials.

India had previously voiced concerns that the ship would be used to spy on its activities, said media reports.

Sri Lanka’s Foreign Ministry said the ship will be allowed to remain in the Chinese-run port until 22 August.

Foreign security analysts quoted by Reuters describe the Yuan Wang 5 as one of China’s latest generation space-tracking ships, used to monitor satellite, rocket and intercontinental ballistic missile launches.

Several Indian media reports described it as a “dual-use spy ship”. Shipping analytics websites call it a research and survey vessel.

One report by Indian news site NDTV said the government in Delhi was concerned about “the possibility of the ship’s tracking systems attempting to snoop on Indian installations while on its way to Sri Lanka”.

Earlier in July, an Indian foreign ministry spokesman said the government was monitoring the ship’s planned visit, adding that Delhi would protect its security and economic interests.

According to a Reuters report, India had lodged a verbal protest with the Sri Lankan government against the ship’s visit.

Earlier this month, Sri Lanka’s Foreign Ministry asked China to defer the ship’s port call, saying it needed to take “further consultations”.

China responded, saying it was “completely unjustified for certain countries to cite so-called ‘security concerns’ to pressure Sri Lanka” – though it did not name any specific country. Sri Lanka later announced that the boat would be given permission to dock.

-BBC News

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