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Business News/ News / World/  Chinese survey vessel Shi Yan 6 docks in Colombo despite Indian security concerns
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Chinese survey vessel Shi Yan 6 docks in Colombo despite Indian security concerns

The permission was granted only for replenishment and no research work would be carried out, Kapila Fonseka, spokesman of Sri Lanka foreign ministry said

Beijing is using Shi Yan 6, a dual-purpose vessel, not only for maritime survey but also for seabed survey for future operations of the Chinese Navy in the Indian Ocean (South China Sea Institute of Oceanology)Premium
Beijing is using Shi Yan 6, a dual-purpose vessel, not only for maritime survey but also for seabed survey for future operations of the Chinese Navy in the Indian Ocean (South China Sea Institute of Oceanology)

Chinese research vessel Shi Yan 6 Wednesday docked at Sri Lanka's Colombo port despite security concerns raised by India.

"Shi Yan 6 was given permission to enter the (Colombo) port for replenishment," PTI quoted Sri Lankan foreign ministry spokesperson.

Shi Yan 6 had been expected to conduct research with Sri Lanka’s National Aquatic Resources Research and Development Agency (NARA), but news agency AP reported that the permission was granted only for replenishment and no research work would be carried out, quoting Kapila Fonseka, spokesman of Sri Lanka foreign ministry.

“The particular permission is very clear," he added.

In August last year, a similar visit by the Chinese ballistic missile and satellite tracking ship ‘Yuan Wang 5’, to the Sri Lankan port of Hambantota triggered strong reactions from India.

What research Shi Yan 6 was supposed to carry out in the Indian Ocean?

As mentioned earlier, Shi Yan 6 was supposed to conduct a maritime survey in the Sri Lankan Exclusive Economic Zone with Sri Lanka's National Aquatic Resources Research and Development Agency (NARA). But the fact is that Beijing is using Shi Yan 6, a dual-purpose vessel, not only for maritime survey but also for seabed survey for future operations of the Chinese Navy in the Indian Ocean.

For the past decade, China has been exploring the Indian Ocean as part of its strategy to expand its sea legs all over the Indo-Pacific region. It is actually carrying out sea-bed research to ensure that sea lanes are created for future expansion of Chinese Navy and events in the Indian Ocean, much to the detriment of India.

Can Sri Lanka say ‘NO’ to China on docking of Shi Yan 6 at its ports?

Sri Lanka owes $7.1 billion to bilateral creditors, including $3 billion to China. The debt-ridden Colombo has given up its Hambantota port to China as part of the debt equity swap agreement. China accounts for about 10% of Sri Lanka’s loans, trailing Japan and the Asian Development Bank.

What are India's concerns?

There are apprehensions in India about the possibility of the vessel’s tracking systems attempting to snoop on Indian defence installations while being on its way to the Sri Lankan port.

Last year Yuan Wang 5, a ballistic missile tracker docked at Hambantota. It is a military surveillance ship and has the capacity to track inter-continental ballistic missiles. 

It is supposed that Shi Yan 6 is monitoring and experimenting on the sea bed to see future submarine operations of the PLA Navy. It could happen as soon as 2025. 

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Published: 25 Oct 2023, 10:41 PM IST
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