For the past six days, the presence of a Chinese research vessel in Sri Lanka has caused some unease in New Delhi. After a contentious six-day visit, the ship docked at the strategically significant Hambantota port and departed from Sri Lankan waters on Monday.
The Chinese space and satellite ship Yuan Wang 5 was docked in Sri Lanka’s Hambantota port. The Chinese military used the surveillance ship to monitor launches of satellites, rockets, and intercontinental ballistic missiles.
India claimed that Yuan Wang 5 was more than just a military ship and that it had the ability to spy on its operations. Beijing allegedly has the authority to scrutinise travel to as many as six ports in south India.
The ballistic missile and satellite tracking ship “Yuan Wang 5” was supposed to arrive at the Chinese-run port on August 11, but Sri Lankan authorities refused to grant them permission due to security concerns raised by India.
At 8:20 a.m. local time on August 16, the Chinese ship docked in the port of Hambantota in southern Sri Lanka. In order to refuel, it docked there.
As per local harbour master Nirmal Silva, the ship departed the port at 4 p.m. local time.
As per officials, Jiang Yin port in China will be its next port of call.
As per Hambantota port officials, no personnel rotation occurred during the call, as was previously agreed. During the ship’s visit, Sri Lanka provided the necessary assistance that the Chinese embassy had requested.
Due to India’s concerns, Sri Lanka had requested that China postpone the visit. Colombo granted the vessel port access from August 16 to August 22 on August 13 with the stipulation that it maintain an active Automatic Identification System (AIS) inside Sri Lanka’s Exclusive Economic Zone and refrain from conducting any scientific research within Sri Lankan waters.
As per Sri Lanka, the Ministry of Defence gave the vessel permission to visit for replenishment during the predetermined time period.
It stated that there would be no personnel rotation during the port call and that the Chinese Embassy in Colombo had asked the Sri Lankan government to provide the necessary assistance.
The Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry stated earlier this month that security and cooperation in the neighbourhood are of the utmost importance when handling the situation involving the Chinese vessel Wang Yang 5.
The local telecommunications regulatory authority had issued a No Objection Letter for the use of frequencies and communication equipment subject to non-interference and non-protection.
In New Delhi, there were worries that the ship’s tracking systems might try to eavesdrop on Indian defence installations while it was en route to the port in Sri Lanka.
(With inputs from agencies)
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