China Vessel Heads To Sri Lanka: India on Thursday said it was aware of reports from Beijing about a planned visit of a Chinese vessel to a money-laden Sri Lankan port.
Shipping data from Refinitiv Eikon showed that the research and survey vessel Yuan Wang 5 was en route to the southern Sri Lankan port of Hambantota and was expected to arrive on 11 August.
“The government carefully monitors any developments relating to India’s security and economic interests and takes all necessary measures to protect them,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi told a weekly media briefing.
“I think it should be a clear message.”
He did not specify what measures India was taking and to whom the message was addressed.
China’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Sri Lankan officials could not be immediately reached for comment.
A Sri Lankan government official told Reuters on condition of anonymity that Indian diplomats in Colombo lodged a verbal protest with Sri Lanka’s foreign ministry on Monday.
A Sri Lankan consulting firm, Belt and Road Initiative Sri Lanka, said on its website that Yuan Wang 5 will be in Hambantota for a week.
“The ship will conduct space tracking, satellite control and research tracking in the northwestern part of the Indian Ocean region through August and September,” it said without citing a source.
Sri Lanka formally handed over commercial activities in its main southern port to a Chinese company in 2017 on a 99-year lease after struggling to pay its debts. The port is near the main shipping route from Asia to Europe.
US and Indian officials are concerned that the $1.5 billion port could become a Chinese military base.
Beijing is welcome to pour more money into massive China-backed projects in Hambantota and Colombo, a Sri Lankan official told Reuters on Monday.
China Vessel Heads To Sri Lanka
China is one of Sri Lanka’s biggest lenders and has also funded India’s troubled airports, roads and railways.
As Sri Lanka now grapples with its worst economic crisis in seven decades, this year alone India has provided nearly $4 billion in support.
Responding to a tweet on the proposed Hambantota visit, Indian security analyst Nitin A. Gokhale cited Sri Lanka’s decision to allow a Chinese submarine and a warship to dock in Colombo in 2014, a move that angered India at the time.
“2014 redux?” Gokhale said on Twitter. “Harmless port call or intentional provocation?”
India’s concerns over Chinese influence in Sri Lanka came as US President Joe Biden and China’s Xi Jinping on Thursday took their positions as leaders amid tensions over a possible visit by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Chinese-claimed Taiwan. Fifth call.
Taiwan’s defense ministry said on Thursday, Taiwan’s military opened fire to warn a drone that it was “looking” at a strategically located and heavily fortified island close to the Chinese coast could potentially protect its defenses was investigating.