Spy attack from China? Sri Lanka allows Chinese spy ship to dock

India fears spy attacks
Sri Lanka allows Chinese spy ship to dock

Beijing is one of the largest lenders in Sri Lanka. The island nation is now allowing Chinese surveillance ships to enter. In India, the news caused concern.

After days of delay, a military reconnaissance ship from China was allowed to dock at a port in crisis-hit Sri Lanka – despite security concerns in neighboring India. According to Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Colombo, the “Yuan Wang 5” will arrive at the southern port of Hambantota next Tuesday and will dock there until August 22.

The ship, belonging to the Chinese People’s Liberation Army and according to media reports, used to track satellites and ICBMs and also described as a spy ship, was originally scheduled to dock there last Thursday. True, Sri Lanka did not give a specific reason for delaying the arrival of the ship. However, security concerns on the Indian side are suspected to be behind this.

The Indian government has expressed concern that reconnaissance vessels could spy on military installations given Sri Lanka’s proximity to mainland India. However, the Foreign Ministry in Colombo assured that the Chinese ship would dock in Sri Lanka only to load supplies.

India has provided extensive aid, including food, fuel, medicine and cooking gas, to neighboring Sri Lanka, which is mired in a severe economic crisis. At the same time, Sri Lanka is dependent on China, one of the country’s largest lenders, agreeing to loan restructuring. This is considered a condition of Sri Lanka’s expected International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout program.

China has lent Sri Lanka billions of dollars for development projects, some of which critics say do little for the small but strategically important island nation in the Indian Ocean. This includes the Hambantota port, which Sri Lanka leased to China in 2017 because it was unable to pay its debts. According to media reports, India is concerned that Beijing’s Hambantota port could serve as a military base in the future. Close to major shipping routes from Asia to Europe.

(This article was first published on Sunday, August 14, 2022.)

Ambrose Fernandez

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