India is upset with Sri Lanka for allowing Chinese military ship to dock at local port


Chinese Space and Satellite Tracking ship Yuan Wang 5

India is upset with Colombo for allowing a Chinese Space and Satellite Tracking ship Yuan Wang 5 to dock at Hambantota in Sri Lanka on August 11 despite serious objections over security concerns in the region from the Indian Navy.

The Chinese military ship while operating under the guise of a research and survey vessel is involved in ocean mapping, which is critical to anti-submarine operations by the Chinese PLA Navy, according to a report filed by senior journalist Shishir Gupta in the Hindustan Times.

The ship is also reported to have the capability of tracking satellites and intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Colombo has failed to accede to India’s request at a time when the Modi government has gone out of its way to help Sri Lanka during the current economic crisis with a more than $3.5 billion lifeline for buying food, fuel and medicines.

The Sri Lanka regime under Ranil Wickremesinghe has given approval to satellite tracker military ship Yuan Wang 5 to dock at Hambantota from August 11 to 17 for refuelling, rest and recreation, and supplies.

It is understood that Sri Lanka was forced to allow the Chinese ship entry into Hambantota port after Beijing’s envoy to Colombo arm-twisted the Wickremesinghe regime and made it clear that denial of permission would adversely impact bilateral ties.

Sri Lanka is stuck in China’s debt trap as it has borrowed huge sums of money at high rates of interest for white elephant projects like the Hambantota port and an international airport which offer no commercial returns. As a result, the island nation is susceptible to pressure from Beijing. 

Indian Navy raising objections to the docking of the military surveillance ship, Sri Lankan Cabinet Spokesperson on August 2 went on record stating the strategic surveillance ship was only coming to refuel. “President told the cabinet that diplomatic efforts will be made to work with both the countries so as to not create any issues,” said spokesman Bandula Gunawardana.

However, New Delhi does not appear to be very convinced by the statement.