News headlines | Chinese ship makes a divisive visit to Sri Lanka

The docking was previously delayed because it was purportedly viewed as a surveillance ship by India and the US.

A week after its arrival was delayed, purportedly due to concerns voiced by the US and India, a Chinese naval research ship moored in a port in Sri Lanka built by Beijing. Indian media refer to the ship as a "dual-use espionage vessel," while China describes it as carrying out "marine scientific research."

According to the AP, Chinese and Sri Lankan officials welcomed the Yuan Wang 5 as it moored in the port of Hambantota. The port of Hambantota, which is situated on Sri Lanka's southern coast, was built by Chinese contractors and leased to Beijing in 2017 when Sri Lanka was unable to pay for its construction costs.

The ship's arrival had been postponed at Sri Lanka's request from last week to this week. The nation's foreign ministry asked for the delay, citing "a few concerns."

When they met with Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Ali Sabry in Cambodia earlier this month, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Indian Minister of External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar both directly opposed the ship's visit, according to the Hindustan Times. The Yuan Wang 5's arrival has received harsh criticism in Indian media, despite New Delhi's refusal to recognize these assertions. Several publications have labeled the ship as having intelligence-gathering capabilities.

The Yuan Wang 5 is run by the Strategic Support Force of the People's Liberation Army of China, according to a Pentagon report from 2021. The study claimed that satellite, rocket, and ballistic missile launches can be observed using ships of the Yuan Wang class.

The Yuan Wang 5 "is a strong craft whose vast aerial reach — apparently approximately 750 km — means that various ports in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh could be on China's radar," according to a report published on Sunday in the Indian Express. This is what causes India to be concerned.

However, China has disregarded these worries. According to Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Wang Wenbin, "the marine scientific research activities of the Yuan Wang 5 ship are compliant with international law and international customary practice." "They should not be hindered by any third party," the statement reads. "They do not impact the security and economic interests of any country."

Chinese military usage of the port of Hambantota will not be permitted, according to Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe.

The ship "did not fall into the military category. In an interview with the Japanese daily Yomiuri Shimbun on Sunday, Wickremesinghe claimed that "[It] fits under the category of a research ship." "In this manner, [we] allowed the ship to arrive in Hambantota."

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