Sri Lanka, on 25th October allowed a Chinese research vehicle to dock on its main port. The arrival of the Shi Yan 6 follows last year’s visit by a Chinese naval vessel. The latest ship was given permission to dock for replenishment at the port of Colombo, the Indian Ocean island’s main port, from October 25 until October 28, said Foreign Ministry spokesman Kapila Fonseka.
Why is Shi Yan 6 on the Lankan harbour?
The vessel had been expected to conduct research with Sri Lankan state institutions, but Fonseka said permission was granted only for replenishment and no research work would be carried out.
“The particular permission is very clear,” he said.
According to Chinese television network CGTN, Shi Yan 6 is a geophysical scientific research vessel on an expeditionary voyage in the eastern area of the Indian Ocean. the Shi Yan 6 would help “strengthen scientific research cooperation and exchanges with countries along the Maritime Silk Road and further realise the integration of science and education for the Belt and Road Initiative”. The vessel has 60 crew members on board.
Chinese research ship Shi Yan 6 is seen berthed at Colombo harbor. CREDITS AP.
According to naval observers, the Shi Yan 6 (which means Experiment 6) began its journey from Guangzhou port in China in early September and sailed into the IOR via the Malacca Straits. The ship is also scheduled to engage in research with Sri Lanka’s National Aquatic Resources Research and Development Agency.
Organised by the South China Sea Institute of Oceanology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the vessel is scheduled to voyage at sea for 80 days, covering a range of more than 12,000 nautical miles (approximately 22,200 kilometres), CGTN reported.
Why does it raise security concerns for India?
Beijing wants to catapult its influence in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) to its maximum capacity. Sri Lanka has become a scapegoat for China ever since that port was built on Chinese money and the Lankans defaulted to re-pay the amount. The Hambantota International Port is on a 99 year lease to our neighbours. According to various experts, there was no need for any port in that region. Lack of activity in the port led to no returns and in turn, Sri Lanka failed to pay the amount. China has been doing similar activities with Nepal, Pakistan and Myanmar.
SRI LANKA’S CHINESE BUILT HAMBANTOTA PORT. CREDITS AFP
Beijing targets a country which is weaker to economic wise and invests huge amounts knowing it’s going to default. This gets China their leverage to operate from those countries and conduct any research operations. All of this has an ulterior motive to hurt India. China is practically surrounding India with all of its influence. This is the second time in a span of 1 year where China’s vessels have docked at the Lankan port.
The close distance of Sri Lanka to our southern borders puts India in an awkward position and in harm’s way. The research vessel there could be conducting research on geo-political, geographical or any sorts of dangerous experiments which could raise serious security concerns for India. The relations between the two Asian giants have been rocky ever since India banned the Chinese apps and many manufacturing companies have left Chinese soil for India. Xi-JinPing did not participate in the grand G20 summit organised in India which led to a turmoil of rumours on their relations with New Delhi.
China’s always had ulterior motives when it has conducted operations in IOR. In 2020, Chinese troops had a skirmish with our soldiers in Ladakh and Kargil region who were reportedly sent by the government to extend the Chinese border and enter into India. Recently, China included Andhra Pradesh as a part of their country when launching their political map. India lodged a strong complaint which saw the revised version of map, without Andhra Pradesh. It clearly indicates China’s plans of extending its influence in IOR to counter India and the newly formed Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QSD) profoundly known as QUAD. Australia, India, Japan and the USA are the active and only members of this alliance.