NEW DELHI: In what could become a reason to further escalate tensions between India and China, Sri Lanka’s government has granted permission for a controversial Chinese research vessel to visit the island despite India’s serious concerns.
India’s main concern is that it may pose threat to its security as it could spy on military installations, officials familiar with the matter said on Saturday. The Yuan Wang 5 is described as a research and survey vessel by international shipping and analytics sites, but is said to be capable in spying.
The Sri Lankan government said that it has allowed a high-tech Chinese research ship to dock at the southern port of Hambantota from August 16 till 22 for “replenishment purposes. It may be noted that Colombo asked Beijing to defer the port call amidst India’s concern over the vessel’s presence.
The southern deep-sea port of Hambantota is considered strategically important for its location. The port has been developed largely with Chinese loans.
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.
However, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said Sri Lanka, as a sovereign country, makes its own independent decisions and noted that India would make its judgment on its security concerns based on the prevailing situation in the region, especially in the border areas.