America has expressed concern to Sri Lanka about the likely visit of a Chinese research ship in October that could also cause worries in India, which previously raised security concerns over docking by China’s spy vessels, according to a media report.
US under-secretary Victoria Nuland, who met Sri Lankan foreign minister Ali Sabry in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session, raised concerns about the upcoming visit of the Chinese research vessel ‘SHI YAN 6′, a newspaper reported on Monday (25).
Sabry said Sri Lanka, as a neutral country, had worked out the Standard Operating Procedure (SPO) to be followed by foreign ships and aircraft in carrying out any activity in Sri Lankan territory.
The minister is reported to have said that Sri Lanka was “even-handed” in this approach for all the countries.
Sri Lanka’s president Ranil Wickremesinghe also said the SPO had been worked out for foreign vessels.
The Chinese research vessel, described as a research/ survey vessel, is expected in Sri Lanka in October to carry out research along with the National Aquatic Resources Research and Development Agency (NARA).
Sri Lanka’s foreign ministry said in August it was processing a request by China to allow its research ship to dock in the country.
“The Chinese embassy here has made an application and the ministry is currently looking at it,” Priyanga Wickramasingha, the foreign ministry spokesperson, had said.
No dates have been fixed yet for the visit, she said.
China despatches its research/surveillance vessels to Sri Lanka on a regular basis.
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In August, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy warship HAI YANG 24 HAO arrived in the country on a two-day visit. It was reported that the arrival of the 129-metre-long ship was delayed due to concerns raised by India.
In August last year, a similar visit by the Chinese ballistic missile and satellite tracking ship, ‘Yuan Wang 5’, which arrived in the southern Sri Lankan port of Hambantota elicited strong reactions from India.
There were apprehensions in New Delhi about the possibility of the vessel’s tracking systems attempting to snoop on Indian defence installations while being on its way to the Sri Lankan port.