Tuesday, September 27, 2022

China’s envoy in Sri Lanka created controversy over Chinese research ship arrival

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China’s envoy in Sri Lanka on Tuesday played down the controversy surrounding the arrival of a high-tech Chinese research ship at the southern port of Hambantota, calling such visits “very natural”.

At 8.20 am local time, the Chinese ballistic missile and satellite tracking ship “Yuan Wang 5” docked in the port of Hambantota in the southern part of the country. Until August 22, it will be docked there.

The ship was scheduled to dock at the port on August 11, but because the Sri Lankan government had not given its authorization, that date was postponed.

Due to India’s concerns, Sri Lanka had asked  China to postpone the visit. Colombo gave the port permission to receive the ship from August 16 to 22 on Saturday.

According to Sri Lanka, the Ministry of Defence granted the vessel’s visit for replenishing purposes throughout the stipulated period.

The ship was welcomed by Qi Zhenhong, the Chinese ambassador to Sri Lanka, who was also present at the port. There were also several of parliamentarians from the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna party’s split-off group.

Asked about the Indian concerns, the Ambassador said “I don’t know, you should ask the Indian friends”.

Since the visit had been approved in mid-July, Sri Lanka’s decision to postpone he visit caused much controversy in the country.
Bandula Gunawardena, a spokeswoman for the Cabinet, said the issue was amicably resolved in response to the ship’s arrival.

”Relations with all countries are important to us,” Gunawardena said.

The security and cooperation in the neighborhood are of utmost priority in handling the issue of the Chinese vessel Wang Yang 5, the Foreign Ministry here said in a statement.

India has traditionally taken a stern view of Chinese military vessels in the Indian Ocean and has protested such visits with Sri Lanka in the past.

The ties between India and Sri Lanka had come under tension after Colombo allowed the Chinese nuclear-powered submarine to dock in one of its ports in 2014.

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