China warns ‘third parties’ as high-tech ship docks in Sri Lanka amid India, US concerns

Chinese ship Yuan Wang 5. [Photo: Twitter/Muazhalm]

China on Tuesday said the activities of its high-tech research vessel will not affect the security of any country and should not be “obstructed” by any “third party,” as the ship berthed at Sri Lanka’s southern port of Hambantota amid Indian and US concerns.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said the ship ‘Yuan Wang 5’ has “successfully berthed” at Hambantota port with “active cooperation from the Sri Lankan side”.

Wang parried a question of extending financial support to Sri Lanka, which went bankrupt defaulting on USD 51 billion in foreign debt which included loans from China, Zee News reported.

He said that when the ship arrived, the Chinese Ambassador to Sri Lanka Qi Zhenhong hosted the onsite welcoming ceremony at the Hambantota port, which Beijing took over on 99-year-lease as a debt swap in 2017.

Apparently referring to Indian and US concerns over the ship with military applications berthing at the Hambantota port in the Indian Ocean, Wang said: “I want to stress again that the marine scientific research activities of the Yuan Wang 5 are consistent with international law and international common practice.”

“They do not affect the security and the economic interests of any country and should not be obstructed by any third party,” he said.

He said the ceremony was attended by a representative of Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickramasinghe besides “more than ten heads of parties and heads of friendly communities.”

“It will take some time for the “Yuan Wang 5 research ship to complete the replenishment of necessary supplies,” he said.

The Sri Lankan government, which earlier asked the Chinese government to delay the arrival of the ship after India and the US reportedly expressed concern over its specialized in satellite and ballistic missile tracking, finally granted the port access to the vessel from August 16 to 22.

On Monday, Wang declined to reveal details of talks with Colombo leading to the bankrupt island’s government reversing its earlier stand to defer the high-tech vessel’s entry.

“As for the specific questions that you raised, we have mentioned China’s position quite a few times,” Wang said when asked about what the consultations that were held.

After Sri Lanka asked China to defer the entry of the ship, Beijing on August 8 reacted angrily said it was “completely unjustified” for certain countries to cite the so-called security concerns to pressure Colombo and “grossly interfere” in its internal affairs.

The ship with over 2,000 crew has advanced facilities to track satellites and ballistic missiles, according to the Chinese official media accounts. Sri Lanka said it permitted the ship after extensive consultations.


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