Source : News18
|The ship docked at the Hambantota Port on Tuesday morning and is expected to remain there for a few days to replenish and refuel (Image: Twitter/DailyMirrorLK)|
Sri Lankan news agencies reported that the Chinese spy ship Yuan Wang 5 reached the Hambantota Port on Tuesday morning. The Yuan Wang 5 spy ship has become a political headache for Sri Lanka as India and its allies oppose the ship’s docking at the sea port.
The Hambantota Port was developed with Chinese money and the bankrupt nation has handed the port on a 99-year lease as part of a debt swap.
The port is of strategic importance to India as it considers the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) as an area of traditional influence and has raised issues with the Sri Lankan government in 2014 as well after it allowed a Chinese nuclear-powered submarine to dock in one of its ports creating an almost similar situation once more after eight years.
The spy ship’s docking at the port has raised concerns as India believes the spy ship will pose a threat to the safety and security of the Kudankulam and Kalpakkam nuclear reactors, as well as to the Chennai and Thoothukudi ports.
Though China calls the Yuan Wang 5 as a research vessel, the Pentagon says these ships which fall under the Yuan Wang series are equipped with top-of-the-line antennas and electronic equipment which can track missiles and rockets launched and also help in launching them.
Earlier, US ambassador to Sri Lanka Julie Chung also voiced concerns about the ship’s arrival at Hambantota Port but Sri Lankan president Ranil Wickremesinghe ignored the diplomat’s worries.
China says that the ship will remain docked there until it replenishes and refuels for the next stage of its journey.
Sri Lanka, already stuck in an economic crisis, were forced to tackle this geopolitical issue and after India raised concerns they asked China to defer its arrival.
The arrival of the ship comes at a time when the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is yet to approve the bailout and Sri Lanka is looking at the Chinese government to make a positive announcement about Sri Lanka’s previous request to defer the loans it took from China.
Sri Lanka has also requested China to approve a bridge financing deal to tide over the crisis until the IMF bailout funds arrive.
China has earlier given large loans to Sri Lanka pulling it into its debt trap but did not respond when it requested for a bailout package as protests broke out on the streets of Colombo as the nation went bankrupt.
The move also upset the Indian government as it helped Sri Lanka during its time of crisis with $4 billion support through multiple lines of credit to buy essential commodities such as fuel, food and medicines.