India Draws Red Flag Ahead Of Spy Ship Visit To Sri Lanka
The planned visit of a Chinese ship to Sri Lanka has alarmed India, where officials are worried that the ship would be used to eavesdrop on the neighbouring nation. India has already voiced its displeasure to the Sri Lankan government verbally. Aside from expressing hope that "relevant parties" would refrain from interfering with its legal maritime activities, China has not yet commented on the ship's visit. The trip comes at a time when Sri Lanka is battling a severe economic crisis, and India is learnt to have lodged a verbal protest against the ship’s visit. However, India is concerned that the radar aboard this advanced cruiser may spy on them.
The Yuan Wang 5 is a Chinese research & survey vessel. Yuan Wang-class ships are used to track satellite, rocket & intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launches. About seven of these are possessed by China and are capable of travelling throughout the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian oceans. The ships supplement Beijing’s land-based tracking stations. The Yuan Wang 5 was built at China’s Jiangnan Shipyard & it entered service in September 2007. The 222-metre-long, 25.2-metre-wide vessel has state-of-the art tracking technology. During its most recent surveillance mission, China launched a Long March 5B rocket. Additionally, it recently participated in maritime monitoring of China's Tiangong space station's first lab module launch. In August and September, "space tracking, satellite control, and research tracking will be conducted in the northwest of the Indian Ocean region."
But India thinks otherwise. It's important to note that the ship, which is one of China's most technologically advanced ships, has an airborne range of more than 750 miles. This would put the atomic research centre and the nuclear power reactors in Kalapakkam and Koodankulam on its radar, increasing concerns about possible snooping. India worries that the Chinese ship would enter Southern Indian ports in the states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh due to the strategic location of Hambantota, which is also adjacent to major international shipping lanes. Important coastal installations can be susceptible to Chinese surveillance.
Due to Chinese ships making a port visit in Sri Lanka, there has been turbulence in the Indian Ocean before and perhaps won't be the last time. India's relations with its southern neighbour were strained in 2014 as it allowed the submarine Changzheng 2 and cruiser Chang Xing Dao to anchor in Colombo. India views Sri Lanka's action as a breach of accords that provide that the two nations will not permit the use of their respective territories for actions that endanger each other's unity, integrity, or security. Although the current president Wickremesinghe is well recognised for leasing the Hambantota port to China for 99 years, the Rajapaksas are typically held responsible for welcoming China.
The second-largest port in Sri Lanka, Hambantota, is situated alongside the corridor connecting Southeast Asia with Africa and West Asia. It is a significant station for China's Belt and Road Initiative. China has contributed significantly to its expansion, and in 2017 Colombo transferred its majority ownership to a Chinese company after failing to pay off the growing debt India and the US have often expressed worry that Chinese control of this port, which might serve as a hub for the PLA Navy, could undermine their interests in the Indian Ocean. Indian security analysts have frequently questioned its economic sustainability while pointing out that it perfectly fits China's "string of pearls" strategy to encircle India in the Indian Ocean by expanding its land and maritime presence. The proximity of Hambantota to India may provide the Chinese navy with the opportunity for the long-desired maritime flex against India.
Chinese specialists presented the port call as a benefit to Sri Lanka, which can gain "some" foreign exchange by refuelling the ship and assisting it in obtaining supplies, by helping it obtain supplies and replenish it. However, the general consensus is that, among other factors, China's unsuccessful projects put Sri Lanka in a debt trap and contributed to the country's current problem. Therefore, any assistance China is providing to Sri Lanka by docking its research vessel in Hambantota is likely done so for domestic purposes. In the meantime, India has been at the forefront of attempts to save Sri Lanka, and it would remind it of its past contributions in the hope that it would return the favour by defending Indian interests. After the most recent hiccup in ties, it will be interesting to see how aggressive India continues to be in giving aid to Sri Lanka.
Write a public review