Sri Lanka confirms arrival of Chinese vessel

Days after denying reports of the planned arrival of a Chinese research vessel and following India’s “clear message” about “monitoring carefully” the development, Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Defense confirmed on Saturday that the vessel had requested permission to to the southern port of Hambantota. in August.

“The ship will be in Hambantota from August 11 to 17, mainly for replenishment, including fuel,” said Colonel Nalin Herath, the spokesman for Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Defense.

Reports about the ship – Yuan Wang 5 – involved in space and satellite tracking came to New Delhi’s attention earlier this week, when Foreign Ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi told the weekly media briefing that India “closely monitors any development affecting its security and economic interests”.

Shortly after, China said it hoped “relevant parties” would not interfere in its “legitimate maritime activities,” Reuters news agency reported. The comment indicated that the arrival of the Chinese ship could potentially leave Colombo between New Delhi and Beijing interests again.

While the Ministry of Defense in Colombo did not explain why it had previously denied the ship’s arrival, Colonel Herath said: “Such ships periodically come from different countries such as India, China, Japan and Australia. It’s nothing unusual.”

Geostrategic analysts are keeping a close eye on the development, however, given past tensions between Colombo and New Delhi, especially after Colombo allowed a Chinese nuclear-powered submarine Changzheng 2 to dock in its port in 2014.

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