Is Yuan Wang 5, a research and survey vessel or a dual-use spy ship? The debate and claims notwithstanding, the Chinese ship arrived at Sri Lanka's Hambantota port on Tuesday. This despite the security concerns raised by India as to how the ship could gather information on New Delhi's military installations.
The ship, was initially scheduled to arrive at the Chinese built and leased Hambantota port on August 11. After first submitting a request to defer the ship, on August 13, Sri Lanka granted the necessary permissions required for the vessel to dock at the port from August 16-22. As per a report in the AFP, Hambantota port officials said the ship was allowed to dock at the island on the condition that it will not indulge in any research work while is Sri Lankan waters.
War of indirect words between China & India
On August 8, Sri Lanka's foreign ministry spokesperson, in a press conference, said that they had submitted a request to China to defer the ship's arrival. Following which, China insinuating India's interference, said, "that it was completely unjustified for other countries to pressurise Sri Lanka and grossly interfere in its internal affairs." New Delhi has rejected Chinese claims that India put pressure on Sri Lanka to turn the ship away.
Why is India concerned about Hambantota port?
A Chinese vessel arriving at the port hasn't taken India by surprise, whose concerns about the Hambantota port are nothing new. Back in 2017, in what is alleged to be a part of the Chinse debt trap, Colombo leased the port to Chinese company for 99 years, after it was unable to keep its loan repayment commitments. Ever since, there have been fears over the potential use of the port for Beijing's military ambitions.
What Sri Lanka says
After first requesting to defer the ship's arrival, Sri Lanka finally gave in. While granting permission, Sri Lanka has said that the security permission was given for the vessel for, "replenishment purposes." Sri Lanka's foreign ministry has released a statement that, "The security and cooperation in the neighbourhood are of utmost priority in handling the issue of Wang Yang 5."