More than a year after the arrival of a Chinese vessel at a Sri Lankan port, another ship, designated as the “geophysical scientific research vessel Shi Yan 6,” has recently berthed in the South Asian nation. According to media reports, this vessel is scheduled to stay until October 28. Referred to as a “geophysical research vessel,” it has also raised concerns among Indian and US authorities, who sometimes label such vessels as “dual-use spy ships.” The vessel docked at Colombo port, further fueling apprehensions.
Tensions Emerge Over Chinese Ship’s Arrival in Sri Lanka
Apprehensions and tensions started rising between India and Sri Lanka on Tuesday when the Chinese ship ‘Shi Yan 6’ arrived at the Colombo port in Sri Lanka. The vessel was sent to conduct research at the Sri Lankan Exclusive Economic Zone along with Sri Lanka’s National Aquatic Resources Research and Development Agency (NARA) but later was denied due to India’s security reasons.
The permission is only granted with the intent and purpose of replenishment and no research work would be carried out, Kapila Fonseka, the spokesperson of Sri Lanka’s foreign ministry.
Reasons Behind India’s Security Concerns
India’s apprehensions stem from the incident that happened last year. In 2022, a similar tracking ship named “Yuan wang 5” was sent to the southern Sri Lankan port of Hambantota in the name of research. But when the “US Defense Department” later analysed, the picture became clear that it is a dual-use spy vessel made for satellite and site tracking with definite usage in intercontinental ballistic missile launches, as reported by CNN News 18.
There was a possibility that the ships were being sent to spy on the Indian Defence Installation on their way to the Sri Lankan Port. This doubt towards China bulges out from the facts and observations. Since the last decade China has been busy inquiring, and exploring the Indian Ocean to acquire its autonomy over the Indo-Pacific region to carry out future Chinese operations and events there.
As per the facts, this new ship has not been sent only for the maritime survey but to survey the sea bed so that later on the Chinese navy can plan its future course of action on the Indian Ocean.
Why Sri Lanka Can’t Deny China?
Beijing has always been the biggest support to Sri Lanka due to all the infrastructural investments and easy loan access. Sadly, Sri Lanka was not able to earn enough revenues to set off the loan, and as a consequence, it had to lease the seaport of Hambantota to China.
Even last year, Sri Lanka faced a major economic crisis, and a debt of $83 billion. China contributed majorly by providing a 10% share, following Japan and Asian Development Bank. India also supported Sri Lanka by providing financial and material aid. In a sense, Both China and India are Sri Lanka’s friends. It cannot deny China entirely because of the indebtedness it holds.
The Road Forward
The Sri Lankan President made a statement where he clearly stated his positive relations with both countries. He justified the fact of permitting Chinese ships with the fact that they are only permitted for replenishment and not for any research. It has also engaged in deep consultations through diplomatic channels to resolve the matter with a sense of friendship, mutual trust, and comprehensive communication.
These potential threats can cause extensive damage to India or any other country if it turns out to be true. Countries’ defence and research systems should not just keep an eye on their own operations but also global activities. Also, these incidents highlight the importance of maintaining good relations with other countries. In this scenario, Sri Lanka denied China for the research because it shares good relations with India. And lastly helping others in the face of adversity strengthens your relationship. It allows you to establish good ties with other nations.