Beijing asks New Delhi not to obstruct the “research” vessel
China has tacitly asked India to refrain from hampering “marine scientific research” by its vessel Yuanwang-5, which docked at the port of Hambantota in Sri Lanka on Tuesday morning.
“I would like to re-emphasize that the marine scientific research activities of the Yuanwang-5 ship are in accordance with international law and international customary practices. They do not affect the security and economic interests of any country and should not be hindered by any third party,” Wang Wenbin, spokesperson for the Chinese government’s Foreign Ministry, told reporters in Beijing.
Although New Delhi has raised concerns in Colombo over the arrival of the Yuanwang-5 used by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army to track satellites and ballistic missiles, so close to India’s southern coast, the Sri Lankan government finally allowed the ship to dock at the island nation’s Hambantota port on Tuesday.
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The vessel will remain in Port Hambantota for about a week with the publicly stated aim of replenishing stocks.
The Sri Lankan government’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said last week that it had allowed Yuanwang-5 to visit the port of Hambantota from August 16 to 22 on the condition that the ship keep its automatic identification system (AIS) always on. activated within the exclusive economic zone of the island nation and would not conduct any scientific research in its waters.
“It will take some time for the research vessel Yuanwang-5 to complete the replenishment of necessary supplies after docking,” Wang, a Chinese government spokesman, said in Beijing.
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He, however, avoided committing any increased financial aid from China to cash-strapped Sri Lanka following the island nation’s government’s decision to allow the Yuanwang-5 to visit Hambantota port. . “As a friendly neighbor of Sri Lanka, China deeply feels the economic and social difficulties that Sri Lanka is currently facing. China has done all it can to support and help Sri Lanka through the difficulties. This is what we have done and what we will continue to do,” he said.
Beijing has provided $73 million in aid and rice deliveries to help Sri Lanka after the country plunged into an economic crisis earlier this year. The Chinese government, however, continued to dither over Sri Lanka’s request for another aid package of at least $4 billion. The communist country has also failed to respond to the Sri Lankan government’s request to change the terms and conditions of the $1.5 billion bilateral currency swap deal so the island nation can use it. for imports.
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Since the beginning of this year, India has provided aid worth more than US$3.8 billion to help cash-strapped Sri Lanka and has also sent consignments of food, fuel, medicines, fertilizers and other essentials.
External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar held a bilateral meeting with new Sri Lankan Foreign Minister Ali Sabry in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on the sidelines of the ASEAN conclaves on August 4. Jaishankar reassured Sabry of India’s commitment, as a reliable friend and reliable partner, to the economic recovery and welfare of Sri Lanka.