The Chinese space and satellite, Yuan Wang 5 was docked at Sri Lanka’s Hambantota Port around 8:30 am in the morning on Tuesday. Sri Lanka has granted clearance to the vessel for “replenishment” purposes. It’s been described as a dual ship with the ability to track India’s strategic assets in the Indian Ocean Region.
Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement to postpone the scheduled arrival of the Chinese Ship on August 11. But on 6th August they requested China to defer the vessel due to the concerns raised by the Indians on suspecting the ship for its ability to spy.
Ministry held extensive consultations with both the parties to come to a mutual decision and resolve the matter in spirit of “friendship, mutual trust, and constructive dialogue, taking into account the interest of all concerned people. Keeping everything into consideration, on 13 August, the clearance to the Embassy of People’s Republic of China was conveyed for the deferred arrival of the vessel from 16-22 August, said the ministry.
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However, Sri Lanka made a U-turn and allowed the ship to dock at the port on the condition that it keeps as Automatic Identification System (AIS) switched on while in Sri Lankan waters and is not allowed to carry out any scientific research.
The Yuan Wing 5 is a powerful vessel with significant aerial reach, reportedly up to 750 Km. That implies that China’s radar can be up to Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh. ‘
Last week, Arindam Bagchi, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson mentioned that India will make the best judgments about its security purposes and they also take into account that the development doesn’t have an effect on Inda’s security and economic interests and all necessary measures are taken to safeguard them.
Chinese Foreign Ministry expressed its opinion regarding uncertain countries raising security concerns and pressurizing Sri Lanka and called it “completely unjustified”. Further, Wang cleared out that the marine scientific research activities of Yuan Wang 5 are done while abiding by International law and international common practice. They do not affect the security and the economic interests of any country and shouldn’t be obstructed by any third party. He also insisted on countries disrupting the normal exchange and cooperation between China and Sri Lanka.
Ships of the Yuan Wang class are used to track satellite, rocket and intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launches. The ships supplement Beijing’s land-based tracking stations.
The Hambantota port is run by China, which leased it for 99 years after Sri Lanka failed to keep its loan repayment commitments.
China is the biggest beneficiary of Sri Lanka in the infrastructure structure. India, on the other hand, has been Sri Lanka’s lifeline in the ongoing economic crisis, extending economic assistance of nearly USD 4 billion.