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Sri Lanka allows controversial Chinese ship to be built

Sri Lanka allows controversial Chinese ship to be built

Officials said the Sri Lankan government has allowed a Chinese research vessel to remain in a major port on the island despite India’s concerns that the ship may spy on military facilities in New Delhi.

International maritime monitoring and data analysis platforms describe the Yuan Wang 5 as a research and survey vessel, but Indian media consider it a spy ship.

India is concerned about China’s growing influence in the Indian Ocean and Sri Lanka, which it says are part of its sphere of influence.

Yuan Wang 5 was originally scheduled to arrive at the Chinese-ruled port of Hambantota on August 11, but Colombo has been constantly delaying the ship’s stay in the face of Indian protests.

“Today I received the authorization (from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs),” which allowed the ship to stay in Hambantota from 16 to 22 August, Nirmal P Silva, an official with Sri Lanka’s port authorities, told AFP.

Foreign Ministry sources said Colombo finally renewed the mandate initially given to it on July 12 “in a spirit of good understanding” because Sri Lanka is in need of international aid.

Port officials said the Chinese ship was about 1,000 kilometers southeast of Sri Lanka on Friday evening and was slowly heading towards the deep-water port of Hambantota.

In 2017, Colombo found itself unable to service its $1.4 billion debt contracted with Beijing to build Hambantota and had to sell it for 99 years to a Chinese company.

For India’s CNN-News18, the Yuan Wang 5 is a dual-use spy ship, used for space and satellite tracking and used specifically for launching intercontinental ballistic missiles.

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The Indian government expressed concern that the ship might be spying on its activities and lodged a complaint with Colombo about it.

The foreign minister warned New Delhi against “any impact on the security and economic interests of India (which) will take all necessary measures to protect it”.