ECONOMYNEXT – China has sought approval from Sri Lankan authorities for another research ship in early next year, but the approval is yet to be granted, two government sources said amid rising objections from the island nation’s neighbour, India, over the region’s security concern.
The sources, however, said unlike the earlier approved requests, the latest has come without a local partner and the research area being decided by Beijing.
“The approval has not been granted yet and China has requested approval for this research ship to come around February,” one source, a top Sri Lankan government official, told EconomyNext.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Kapila Fonseka said he is unaware of a request by China, while the Chinese embassy in Colombo did not comment despite efforts by EconomyNext.
Beijing has already sent two research ships in the last 14 months despite concerns raised by India, which has consistently said the vessels are for “spying” in the Indian Ocean.
Chinese research ship Shi Yan 6 arrived in Sri Lanka last week, citing for “geophysical scientific research” in collaboration with the island nation’s National Aquatic Resources Research and Development Agency (NARA)
The new move is likely to add to neighbouring India’s concerns about China’s growing influence in the Indian Ocean.
In August last year, Chinese navy vessel Yuan Wang 5 docked at Hambantota in southern Sri Lanka. (Colombo/Nov 5/2023)