Chinese vessel Yuan Wang 5. (File photo)
COLOMBO: Sri Lanka on Saturday granted permission to Chinese vessel Yuan Wang-5, widely believed to be a spy ship, to dock at its Hambantota port, local media reported.
According to a report by Times Online, the Sri Lankan government gave approval to the Yuan Wang-5 ship to dock at the port on Friday.
“Yuan Wang 5 will now berth at the Hambantota International Port on August 16, five days later than scheduled. It was originally due to arrive on August 11. This was delayed after India raised strong concerns citing national security,” the report said.
Earlier this week, Sri Lanka confirmed that it has communicated to China to defer the visit of the Chinese vessel Yuang Wang 5 to Hambantota port. The Chinese vessel was scheduled to dock at Chinese-leased Hambantota port on August 11 for refueling and leave on August 17.
“The Ministry has communicated to the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Colombo to defer the visit of the said vessel to the Hambantota port,” the foreign ministry had said in the statement.
The Foreign Ministry had stated it wishes to reaffirm the enduring friendship and excellent relations between Sri Lanka and China which remain on a solid foundation, as reiterated most recently by the two Foreign Ministers Ali Sabry and Wang Yi at a bilateral meeting in Phnom Penh on August 4.
India had expressed its security concerns over the docking of the vessel at Hambantota as it was shown as a research vessel while the spy ship can map the ocean bed which is critical to anti-submarine operations of the Chinese Navy. Designated as a research and survey vessel, Yuan Wang 5 was built in 2007 and has a carrying capacity of 11,000 tons.
During this significant visit to the key Sri Lankan port, it could conduct satellite research in the northwestern part of the Indian Ocean region, prompting security concerns for India. Hambantota port, located around 250 kms from Colombo was built with high-interest Chinese loans.
The Sri Lankan government struggled to repay the debt they had taken from China following which the port was handed over to the Chinese on a 99-year lease. (ANI)