New Delhi: Despite India’s security concerns, the Sri Lankan government approved the docking of the highly contested Chinese research vessel Yuan Wang 5 at the Hambantota Port, according to official sources on Saturday.
The Chinese ballistic missile and satellite tracking ship Yuan Wang 5 had originally been planned to arrive at Hambantota port on August 11 and stay there until August 17 for refuelling. However, The ship did not arrive at the Hambantota port as scheduled, according to the harbour master of the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA).
The Chinese ship’s tracking devices have raised concerns in India that they might spy on the latter’s military infrastructure.
The Chinese embassy was asked last week by the government of Sri Lanka to postpone the visit of its research vessel to Hambantota Port “until additional negotiations” are held. As a result, the ship did not arrive at the port of Hambantota on Thursday as expected.
However, the foreign ministry of Sri Lanka has reportedly granted permission for the ship to dock at the port beginning August 16. According to PTI, it will now stay in the port until August 22.
Asserting that it will make judgments based on its security concerns, India on Friday rejected China’s “insinuations” that New Delhi urged Colombo to cancel a planned visit by the research vessel.
External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi asserted that Sri Lanka, as a sovereign nation, makes its own independent decisions and noted that India would base its assessment of its security concerns on the circumstances in the region, particularly in the border areas, seen as an apparent allusion to the eastern Ladakh dispute.
“We reject the insinuations in the statement about India. Sri Lanka is a sovereign country and makes its own independent decisions,” Bagchi said at a media briefing.
“With regard to our security concerns, this is the sovereign right of every country. We will make the best judgment in our own interest. This naturally takes into account the prevailing situation in our region, especially in the border areas,” he said.
In a veiled reference to India, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said on Monday that putting pressure on Sri Lanka to prevent the ship from visiting Hambantota was “senseless.”