Thursday, July 18, 2024

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Sri Lanka allows Chinese warship, navigates Indian concerns

By: Staff Writer

Colombo (LNW): A Chinese Navy warship capable of surveillance has docked at the Colombo port, nearly a year after another spy vessel berthed at a strategic port in the country and raised concerns in India.

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy warship HAI YANG 24 HAO arrived at the port of Colombo on Thursday, the Sri Lankan Navy said. The vessel is to leave on Saturday.

“The 129 metre-long ship which arrived in Colombo is manned by a crew of 138 and it is commanded by Commander Jin Xin.

The ship p is scheduled to depart the country today,” the Navy statement said. According to media reports on Friday, Sri Lanka delayed its arrival upon concerns raised by India. “The Chinese authorities sought permission for it earlier, but Sri Lanka delayed permission because of resistance from India, local media reported.

Despite a briefing by Sri Lanka to Indian officials, the latter remained concerned about the research ship’s visit to the island nation.

In August last year, a similar visit by the Chinese ballistic missile and satellite tracking ship, ‘Yuan Wang 5’, which arrived in the southern Sri Lankan port of Hambantota elicited strong reactions from India.

There were apprehensions in New Delhi about the possibility of the vessel’s tracking systems attempting to snoop on Indian defence installations while being on its way to the Sri Lankan port.

India is keeping an eye on the Chinese warship which docked at the Colombo Port this week.

The Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said that India carefully monitors any development that bears on the country’s security interests. He also said that India takes all necessary measures to defend its security interests.

“I am not sure whether it is a warship or not. Having seen these reports, I would emphasise that the government carefully monitors any development having a bearing on the country’s security interests and takes all necessary measures to defend them,” Bagchi said in his weekly press briefing.

Sri Lanka has increasingly come under pressure from world powers such as the United States and India not to allow docking of Chinese military vessels in its ports.

President Ranil Wickremesinghe has maintained that Sri Lanka stands for a neutral Asia-centric foreign policy without being caught in super-power rivalry. Also, he said the conflict involving Taiwan should not allow to be played out in the waters of Indian Ocean.

Currently Sri Lanka is in an exercise to manage equally good relations both with New Delhi and Beijing because both the powers are crucial in restructuring the country’s external debts.

The President visited New Delhi recently and held talks on numerous connectivity projects between the two countries including land connectivity. India is skeptical whether Sri Lanka has the necessary strength to maintain a neutral foreign policy.

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