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Chinese Research Vessel Provokes Diplomatic Tensions in the Sea of Sri Lanka

February 10, Colombo (LNW):Despite being denied entry into the exclusive economic zone of the Sea of Sri Lanka, a Chinese research vessel, Xiang Yang Hong 3, continues its scientific research and observation activities in the area. The vessel, observed sailing southward toward the Maldives, has triggered a fresh round of diplomatic discussions between India and China concerning Sri Lanka.

Expressing concern over repeated incursions of Chinese research ships into the Sea of Sri Lanka, India deems these actions a threat to its security. In response, the Sri Lankan government imposed a one-year ban on research vessels conducting research within its territorial waters. However, the Chinese government formally requested permission to deploy Xiang Yang Hong 3 for research activities in the Sea of Sri Lanka, leading to heightened tensions.

The ban was enforced when the Chinese vessel was ready to depart from its home port. Departing from Sanya port in China on the 16th of last month, the vessel altered its course towards the Maldives instead of heading directly to Sri Lanka.

As of yesterday, Xiang Yang Hong 3 remains in close proximity to the Sri Lankan sea border, engaged in undisclosed investigation or surveillance activities. The vessel’s actions skirt the limits of the Exclusive Economic Zone, which extends within 200 nautical miles from Sri Lanka’s southern coast.

The situation adds complexity with the arrival of an Indian navy submarine in Colombo last Saturday, welcomed with naval courtesies. India perceives this as a strategic victory, while Chinese media outlets counter India’s claim, asserting that India’s pressure on Sri Lanka is not a victory but rather a source of embarrassment. The ongoing developments underscore the delicate diplomatic dynamics in the region.

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