Chinese ship will dock in Hambantota port only for ‘refueling’: Sri Lankan minister

A high-tech Chinese research ship, which is expected to dock at Sri Lanka’s Hambantota port next week, is seeking only “refueling and replenishment” facilities and Colombo, seeking damage to the good understanding and trust that exists with New Delhi. Will not do anything for it, a senior minister has said.

The Chinese space and satellite tracking research vessel ‘Yuan Wang 5’ is visiting Hambantota port from August 11 to 17, weeks after Sri Lanka suffered a major political turmoil following massive protests over the country’s worst economic crisis in decades. There was turmoil.

India’s defense and security establishment has said it will closely follow the planned visit of the Chinese ship.

New Delhi is concerned about the possibility that the ship’s tracking systems may be attempting to spy on Indian installations en route to the Sri Lankan port.

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The Ministry of External Affairs has said that India carefully monitors any developments that affect its security and economic interests.

According to the Daily Mirror newspaper, in Colombo, Bandula Gunawardene, cabinet spokesperson and information minister, said on Friday that the aim of the Chinese ship was “only to refuel and refill other facilities and provisions”.

“The ship or its crew members will not be involved in any internal affairs or trade in Sri Lanka,” the newspaper quoted Gunawardene as saying.

“China and India have always helped Sri Lanka as true friends in domestic and international fora. Therefore, Sri Lanka will do nothing to damage the good understanding and trust that exists between the two countries.

He said that Foreign Minister Ali Sabri has briefed both the countries on the issue at the diplomatic level.

Relations between India and Sri Lanka were strained in 2014 after Colombo allowed a Chinese nuclear-powered submarine to dock in one of its ports.

India is understood to have already conveyed its concerns to Sri Lanka over the Chinese vessel’s proposed visit to the Hambantota port.

According to a media report here, the Foreign Ministry of Sri Lanka has told the Chinese Embassy in Colombo that they will not go ahead with the visit of the research vessel until the issue is discussed further.

However, there has been no official confirmation of this.

India has traditionally taken a tough stand on Chinese military ships in the Indian Ocean and has opposed such visits with Sri Lanka in the past.

New Delhi’s concerns have been particularly focused on the Hambantota port.

In 2017, Colombo leased the southern port to China Merchant Port Holdings after Sri Lanka was unable to meet its debt repayment commitments, fueling fears over the port’s potential use for military purposes.

The proposed voyage of the ship comes at a time when Sri Lanka is grappling with a severe economic crisis.

India has been at the fore in providing financial aid to Sri Lanka as it grapples with the worst economic crisis since 1948.

The southern deep sea port of Hambantota is considered strategically important for its location.

It has been largely developed with Chinese loans.

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