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oi-Deepika S

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Colombo,
Aug
12:

Chinese
spy
ship
Yuan
Wang
5
that
was
supposed
to
dock
at
Sri
Lanka’s
southern
port
of
Hambantota
has
not
berthed
as
planned,
the
country’s
ports
authority
said
on
Friday,
days
after
India
expressed
security
concerns
over
its
presence
in
the
island
nation.

Chinese
ballistic
missile
and
satellite
tracking
ship
was
to
arrive
on
Thursday
and
remain
at
the
port
until
August
17
for
replenishment.

Chinese spy ship Yuan Wang 5

The
Harbour
Master
of
the
Sri
Lanka
Ports
Authority
(SLPA)
said
that
the
ship
did
not
arrive
at
the
port
as
planned.

The
ship
is
awaiting
clearance
to
enter
from
its
location
600
nautical
miles
away
east
of
Hambantota,
local
officials
said.

Chinese spy ship Yuan Wang 5's impending Sri Lanka visit and why India is concernedChinese
spy
ship
Yuan
Wang
5’s
impending
Sri
Lanka
visit
and
why
India
is
concerned

On
July
12,
Sri
Lankan
foreign
ministry
had
granted
approval
for
the
vessel’s
docking
at
the
Hambantota
Port.
On
August
8,
the
ministry
in
a
letter
to
the
Chinese
Embassy
in
Colombo
requested
for
deferring
the
planned
docking
of
the
ship.

It,
however,
did
not
specify
the
reason
for
such
a
request.
‘Yuan
Wang
5’ had
already
entered
the
Indian
Ocean
by
that
time.

Sri
Lanka’s
request
for
postponement
came
after
the
Indian
government
had
raised
strong
objections
to
the
visit
citing
security
concerns.

The
SLPA
said
that
although
a
Chinese
company
is
in
charge
of
the
Hambantota
port,
the
navigation
and
operational
issues
are
handled
by
it.

Sri
Lanka’s
opposition
political
parties
have
blamed
the
government
for
what
they
termed
mishandling
of
the
issue
of
the
docking
of
the
Chinese
ship.

The
five-party
breakaway
group
of
the
ruling
Sri
Lanka
Podujana
Peramuna
party
in
a
joint
statement
urged
that
the
ship
be
allowed
to
visit
Hambantota.

The
southern
deep-sea
port
of
Hambantota
is
considered
strategically
important
for
its
location.
The
port
has
been
developed
largely
with
Chinese
loans.

India
has
said
it
carefully
monitors
any
development
having
a
bearing
on
its
security
and
economic
interests.

Over deferring visit of ship to Hambantota, Sri Lanka confirms talks with ChinaOver
deferring
visit
of
ship
to
Hambantota,
Sri
Lanka
confirms
talks
with
China

“We
are
aware
of
reports
of
a
proposed
visit
by
this
vessel
to
Hambantota
in
August,”
External
Affairs
Ministry
Spokesperson
Arindam
Bagchi
had
said
in
New
Delhi
when
asked
about
the
reports
of
a
proposed
visit
by
a
Chinese
vessel.

“The
government
carefully
monitors
any
development
having
a
bearing
on
India’s
security
and
economic
interests
and
takes
all
necessary
measures
to
safeguard
them,”
he
said
last
month.

New
Delhi
is
concerned
about
the
possibility
of
the
ship’s
tracking
systems
attempting
to
snoop
on
Indian
installations
while
being
on
its
way
to
the
Sri
Lankan
port.

India
has
traditionally
taken
a
stern
view
of
Chinese
military
vessels
in
the
Indian
Ocean
and
has
protested
such
visits
with
Sri
Lanka
in
the
past.

The
ties
between
India
and
Sri
Lanka
came
under
strain
after
Colombo
gave
permission
to
a
Chinese
nuclear-powered
submarine
to
dock
in
one
of
its
ports
in
2014.

India’s
concerns
have
been
focused
on
Hambantota
port
in
particular.
In
2017,
Colombo
leased
the
southern
port
to
China
Merchant
Port
Holdings
for
99
years,
after
Sri
Lanka
was
unable
to
keep
its
loan
repayment
commitments,
fanning
fears
over
the
potential
use
of
the
port
for
military
purposes.

On
Monday,
the
Chinese
Foreign
Ministry
said
it
was
“completely
unjustified
for
certain
countries
to
cite
the
so-called
“security
concerns”
to
pressure
Sri
Lanka.”

“As
Sri
Lanka
grapples
with
economic
and
political
difficulties,
to
grossly
interfere
in
Sri
Lanka’s
normal
exchange
and
cooperation
with
other
countries
is
to
exploit
its
vulnerability,
which
is
morally
irresponsible
and
against
the
basic
norms
governing
international
relations,”
Chinese
Foriegn
Ministry
spokesperson
Wang
Wenbin
said
in
Beijing
in
response
to
a
question
on
the
Chinese
vessel’s
planned
docking
at
the
Hambantota
port.

“We
urge
the
relevant
parties
to
see
China’s
marine
scientific
research
activities
in
a
rational
light
and
stop
disrupting
normal
exchange
and
cooperation
between
China
and
Sri
Lanka,”
Wang
added.

China
is
the
main
creditor
of
Sri
Lanka
with
investment
in
infrastructure.
Debt
restructuring
of
Chinese
loans
would
be
key
to
the
island’s
success
in
the
ongoing
talks
with
the
International
Monetary
Fund
for
a
bailout.

India,
on
the
other
hand,
has
been
Sri
Lanka’s
lifeline
in
the
ongoing
economic
crisis.
It
has
been
at
the
forefront
of
extending
economic
assistance
of
nearly
$4
billion
to
Sri
Lanka
during
the
year
as
the
island
nation
is
grappling
with
the
worst
economic
crisis
since
independence
in
1948.

Story first published: Friday, August 12, 2022, 16:48 [IST]

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