China’s Yuan Wang 5 docks at Hambantota Port

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The Chinese scientific research vessel the Yuan Wang 5 arrived at the Hambantota Port this morning (16).

The vessel will remain at the Hambantota Port till 22 August.

On 28 June, the Chinese Embassy in Colombo informed the Ministry via Diplomatic Note that the ship is scheduled to pay a port call at the port of Hambantota from 11-17 August, for replenishment purposes.

While no rotation of personnel were to take place during the call, the Sri Lankan government was requested to provide necessary assistance and positive consideration to the request by the Chinese Embassy.

The Ministry circulated the said request among relevant stakeholders in Government for approval, namely the Ministry of Defence, the Sri Lanka Navy and the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL) and on 12 July, diplomatic clearance was issued.

The following conditions highlighted by the Ministry of Defence were also stated – keeping the Automatic Identification System (AIS) switched on within the EEZ of Sri Lanka and no scientific research to be conducted in Sri Lankan waters.

Subsequently, in light of certain concerns raised with the Ministry, Sri Lanka requested the Chinese Embassy by Diplomatic Note dated 05 August, to defer the visit of the vessel to Hambantota port until the conduct of further consultations on the matter.

The Government has since engaged in extensive consultations at a high level through diplomatic channels with all parties concerned, with a view to resolving the matter in a spirit of friendship, mutual trust and constructive dialogue, taking into account the interests of all parties concerned, and in line with the principle of sovereign equality of states. In light of concerns raised, the Ministry also sought further information and material that could assist in consultations on the matter.

On 12 August the Embassy informed the Ministry via Diplomatic Note that the ship was scheduled to arrive in the port of Hambantota on 16 August and applied for clearance for replenishment purposes for the new dates 16- 22 August. Having considered all material in place, on 13 August, clearance was issued.

Issuing a statement, the Ministry reiterated Sri Lanka’s policy of cooperation and friendship with all countries.

“Security and cooperation in the neighbourhood is of utmost priority. It is Sri Lanka’s intention to safeguard the legitimate interests of all countries, in keeping with its international obligations. The Ministry is deeply appreciative of the support, solidarity and understanding of all countries, especially in the current juncture when the country is in the process of addressing severe economic challenges and engaging in multiple domestic processes to ensure the welfare of the Sri Lankan people.”