Despite India’s concerns, a Chinese military ship has been docked at Sri Lankan port

Chinese military survey ship Yuan Wang 5 arrived at Ambantota International Port in Ambantota, Sri Lanka on August 16, 2022. REUTERS/Stringer

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COLOMBO, Aug 16 (Reuters) – A Chinese military inspection ship docked at Sri Lanka’s Chinese-built port of Ambantota on Tuesday after several days of delays due to protests against the arrival of India, which has leverage with China in a tense environment. Sri Lanka.

India has opposed the docking of the Yuan Wang 5, which analysts describe as a high-tech ship to track objects in space, because it fears China could use the port near the main Asia-Europe shipping lane as a military base.

Struggling with its worst economic crisis in decades, Sri Lanka, in need of support from both India and China, initially allowed the ship to stay at Ambandottai for five days from August 11.

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It later asked China to delay the ship’s arrival, saying it needed further consultations. read more

Yuan Wang 5 will now only stop for three days to stock up on fuel, food and other essentials, a port official said.

A Sri Lankan government minister said the island nation is working to ensure there is no friction between the allies.

“India has raised concerns and Sri Lanka has requested a delay in stopping the vessel until talks are held to resolve these issues,” Media Minister Bandula Gunawardena told reporters.

“Even before this, ships from countries like America and India have come to Sri Lanka. We have allowed these ships to come and we have also allowed the Chinese ship to stop.”

China Merchants Port Holdings (0144.HK) Deep Sea signed a 99-year lease in 2017 to operate Hambantota port.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said the Chinese ship had not interfered with any other country.

“The Yuan Wang 5 carries out maritime research activities … that do not affect the security or economic interests of any country and should not be interfered with by third parties,” he said in Beijing.

Foreign defense analysts say the Yuan Wang 5 is one of China’s latest generation of space surveillance ships, used to monitor satellite, rocket and intercontinental ballistic missile launches.

The Pentagon says the Yuan Wang ships are operated by the Strategic Support Force of the People’s Liberation Army.

Prior to the ship’s arrival, India had provided a Tornier 228 aircraft to the Sri Lankan Air Force for maritime surveillance.

At a handover ceremony, Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe said it was the beginning of cooperation in maritime surveillance between his country’s Navy and Air Force and the Indian Navy.

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Statement by Uditha Jayasinghe in Colombo; Shilpa Jamkandikar and Krishna N. Das wrote; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan and Clarence Fernandez

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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