MoD and MFA approve Chinese research vessel entering Hambantota port

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As Sri Lanka’s financial and political crisis worsens and the government awaits a bailout from the International Monetary Fund and a restructure of Sri Lanka’s debt repayment by China, the Ministry of Defence and the Foreign Ministry have approved the Chinese scientific research vessel ‘Yuan Wang 5’ docking at Hambantota on 11 August.

The Research/Survey Vessel was built in 2007 and is sailing under the Chinese flag. It left Jiangyin, China on 13 July and is currently sailing at 19.0 knots in a southeast direction heading to the Hambantota port, which is managed by China Merchant Ports, which purchased an 85 per cent stake in HIPG.

Ceylon Today learns the vessel is expected to stay for a week. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it’s another ‘port call’ and the ship has also sailed to other countries.

The Foreign Ministry official said despite there being questions raised about the vessel and the modern gadgets on the ship, the competent authority will do the needful.

Several foreign newspapers have been told by the Sri Lankan authorities that no such ship will be allowed to enter the Hambantota Port. However, the top official at the MFA said the ship will be anchored at the Southern port.

According to international reports, the ship would conduct satellite research in the Indian Ocean’s north-western region. The vessel is good at tracking vessels conducting a space-ground information exchange and providing significant data support to Zhongxing-2E satellites orbit determination and entry. The vessel has completed 80+ tasks at sea and will arrive at the Hambantota Port.

India, noted that their Government would carefully monitor any developments having a bearing on India’s security and economic interests, and will take all necessary measures to safeguard them.

 India›s foreign ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi in a recent press brief noted “I think that should be a clear message.”

By Sulochana Ramiah Mohan