Another Chinese ship is likely to dock soon at the Colombo port in Sri Lanka, with the island nation’s leading English daily The Daily Mirror reporting that the Lankan government has granted permission for the Chinese “research” ship ‘Shi Yan 6’ to dock amid Indian concerns.
According to top sources, the ship is likely to call at the Colombo Port in October.
Media Director of the Sri Lankan Ministry of Defense, Colonel Nalin Herath, said permission from the ministry has been given for the ship in question based on a request made by the Lanka’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Aquatic Resources Research and Development Agency (NARA). He said NARA is scheduled to conduct research with the Chinese research ship, and the date of the ship’s arrival in Sri Lanka is not yet confirmed.
Earlier, China’s state broadcaster CGTN described the Shi Yan 6 as a scientific research vessel crewed by 60 people that carries out oceanography, marine ecology, and marine geology tests.
Last year, India had raised concerns over a Sri Lankan port call in Hambantota by Chinese research vessel Yuan Wang 5, which specialises in spacecraft tracking and which New Delhi described as a spy vessel.
It was finally berthed at the Chinese-built Hambantota Port in southern Sri Lanka after waiting in the mid-seas for a few days. India had opposed its entry, claiming it could be used to spy on Indian military and nuclear establishments in the South.
Two weeks ago, 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.
Cash-strapped Sri Lanka considers both India and China equally important partners in its task to restructure its external debt. China is one of the top lenders to Sri Lanka. Colombo owes $7.1 billion to bilateral creditors, including $3 billion to China.
The negotiations for Sri Lanka’s external and domestic debt restructuring must be concluded by September, the time for the International Monetary Fund’s review of its $2.9 billion bailout extended in March this year.
The island nation was hit by an unprecedented financial crisis in 2022, the worst since its independence from Britain in 1948, due to a severe paucity of foreign exchange reserves.