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Chinese research ship docks in Sri Lanka after postponement amid India’s concern

A Chinese scientific research ship whose port call was earlier deferred because of apparent security concerns raised by India arrived Tuesday at a southern port in Sri Lanka.

Yuan Wang 5 was welcomed by Sri Lankan port officials and Chinese officials from the ship company at the Hambantota port.

The ship was originally set to reach Aug. 11 but Sri Lankas foreign ministryasked to postponethe docking until further consultations occurred. The ministry said last weekend that the ship wasgiven permission to dockin Hambantota until Aug. 22. It said both sides had agreed the ship would keep its identification systems on and wouldn’t normally perform any research activities during Sri Lanka waters.

Sri Lanka said it had been postponing the ships arrival due to concerns raised with the ministry but didnt identify who had raised them. Security concerns of neighboring India on the ships proximity to its southern borders likely element in.

India on Monday gifted a maritime reconnaissance aircraft to Sri Lanka to strengthen its maritime security. The Indian embassy said Sri Lankas navy and air force personnel who have been trained India will operate the aircraft with operational support from Indian personnel.

The aircraft would become a force multiplier, enabling Sri Lanka to tackle multiple challenges such as for example human and drug trafficking, smuggling along with other organized types of crime in its coastal waters better. Induction of the aircraft is timely because of the existing challenges to Sri Lankas maritime security, the embassy said.

Indias foreign ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said the other day that India was alert to a well planned visit by the vessel and that it carefully monitors any development that affects its security and economic interests and can take all measures to guard them.

China has been vying to expand its influence in Sri Lanka, which sits along among the busiest shipping routes in what India considers section of its strategic backyard.

India hasprovided crucial assistanceincluding food, fuel, medicines and cooking gas to the Indian Ocean nation since it struggles with aneconomic meltdownamid a severe forex crisis. Simultaneously, Chinas agreement torestructure its infrastructure loansto Sri Lanka is essential for the united states in order to reach a bailout program with the International Monetary Fund.

China has lent Sri Lanka vast amounts of dollars for development projects, a few of which were criticized as having little practical use. They include Hambantota port, which Sri Lanka leased to China in 2017 since it could not repay the loan.

Given the geopolitical dynamics in your community and Sri Lankas heavy vulnerability on the economic front, Sri Lanka is using two fires at a diplomatic level, said international affairs analyst Ranga Kalansooriya.

He said while Sri Lanka struggles to discount both regional powers, itsPresident Ranil Wickremesingheis tasked not merely with salvaging the countrys economy but additionally maintaining a diplomatic balance.

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