HomeIndian DefenceChinese research vessel moors near Male; Indian & Sri Lankan coastguard ships...

Chinese research vessel moors near Male; Indian & Sri Lankan coastguard ships reach for trilateral exercise

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Male, On a day when military ships from India and Sri Lanka reached the Maldives coast to participate in a trilateral naval exercise, a Chinese research vessel moored close to the Male port, according to media reports on Thursday. “The Chinese research vessel Xiang Yang Hong 03 was moored close to Male City this morning. Around noon, the ship was shown to be near Thilafushi,” news portal Edition.mv reported, quoting the Marine Traffic website that tracks all ocean liners across the globe.

On January 23, the Maldives government permitted the research vessel, equipped to carry research and surveys, to dock at Male port, saying the halt was for replenishment and that the research Vessel would “not be conducting any research while in the Maldivian waters.”

India has expressed concern about the movement of the Xiang Yang Hong 03 vessel in Indian Ocean waters and also prevailed on Sri Lanka to refuse permission for the ship to dock at Colombo port.

Mohamed Muizzu, widely seen as a pro-China leader, won last year’s presidential election on an ‘anti-India’ stance. He visited Beijing in January to meet China’s top leadership and has vowed to further step up bilateral ties.

In February, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said the ship’s activities complied with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

“China’s scientific research activities in relevant waters are for peaceful purposes and aimed at contributing to humanity’s scientific understanding of the ocean,” Wang said in response to a question on the research ship’s plan to dock at the Maldives. Meanwhile, Thursday morning, Coast Guards of Maldives, India, and Sri Lanka, along with observers from Bangladesh, joined in at the Trilateral Joint Exercise ‘DOSTI-16.’ “MNDF welcomes participating ships from India and Sri Lanka for the Trilateral Joint Exercise ‘DOSTI-16’ from Feb 22-25. Coast Guards of Maldives, India, and Sri Lanka, along with observers from Bangladesh, join in this biennial event to enhance collaboration between the forces,” Maldives National Defence Force (MNDF) said in a post on X along with the photos of the two vessels.

“The purpose of the biennial exercise is to enhance military collaboration between the three nations and explore ways the nations can work together with respect to incidents unfolding at sea,” news portal Sun.mv said.

DOSTI exercise had initially kicked off between Maldives and India in 1991. Sri Lanka first participated in the exercise in 2012. The exercise was last held in 2021, the portal said.

The visit of the Indian coastguard ship to the Maldives comes amidst Male’s demand for the withdrawal of 88 Indian military personnel manning three Indian aviation platforms in the island nation by March 15.

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