Chinese research ship Yuan Wang 5 on Tuesday morning arrived and docked at Sri Lanka’s Hambantota Port, according to local media. The vessel is capable of tracking satellites and intercontinental missiles.
The research and survey vessel was earlier scheduled to dock at the Chinese-leased Hambantota Port on August 11 but was deferred for a while after India raised its concerns. This morning the ship docked at the Sri Lankan Port, Daily Mirror reported.
The Chinese Embassy requested the Sri Lankan government to provide necessary assistance and positive consideration for the ship to dock.
On August 12, the Chinese Embassy informed Sri Lanka’s Foreign Ministry via a Diplomatic Note that the vessel Yuan Wang-5 was scheduled to arrive at Hambantota port on August 16 and applied for clearance for replenishment purposes for the new date August 16 to August 22.
Following Sri Lanka’s decision, China had said that the cooperation between China and Sri Lanka is independently chosen by the two countries and meets common interests and does not target any third party.
Beijing had also said that it is “senseless to pressure Sri Lanka” by citing the issue of security concerns in an apparent reference to reports that Colombo had taken the decision following concerns expressed by India.
Designated as a research and survey vessel, Yuan Wang 5 was built in 2007 and has a carrying capacity of 11,000 tonnes.
India had expressed its security concerns over the docking of the vessel at the Sri Lankan port as it was shown as a research vessel with the capability of mapping the ocean bed, which is critical to anti-submarine operations of the Chinese Navy. The ship could conduct satellite research in the northwestern part of the Indian Ocean region, prompting security concerns for India.
Hambantota Port, located around 250 km 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.