COLOMBO: Sri Lanka has informed India that it will not allow any Chinese research vessel to dock at its ports or operate within its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) for one year.
The move comes after Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged President Ranil Wickremesinghe to respect Indian strategic and security concerns. Sri Lanka’s decision means that the Chinese research vessel Xiang Yang Hong 3 will not be granted clearance to conduct deep water exploration in the South Indian Ocean.
Sri Lanka has informed India that it will not allow any Chinese research vessel to dock at its ports or operate within its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) for a period of one year, people aware of the matter said on Sunday.
The move comes close on the heels of Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging President Ranil Wickremesinghe to respect Indian strategic and security concerns during their meeting on July 21, 2023.
The declared moratorium was conveyed to India through apex diplomatic channels last week, the people cited above added.
This means that Chinese scientific research vessel Xiang Yang Hong 3, which was scheduled to conduct “deep water exploration” in the south Indian Ocean from January 5, 2024 to late May, will not be granted a clearance by Sri Lankan authorities. China has also asked the current pro-Beijing Mohammed Muizzu regime in Maldives to let the 4,600-tonne Xiamen-based vessel conduct a survey off the coast of Male.
The Wickremesinghe government notified the one-year moratorium last week after India and the US red-flagged Colombo entertaining Chinese scientific research vessels and ballistic missile trackers in the Indian Ocean and providing them logistical support, the people said. India had raised objections to Chinese research vessel Shi Yan 6 conducting a joint maritime survey with the Sri Lankan maritime agency in October-November, but Colombo allowed the vessel to dock at its seaport after Wickremesinghe visited Beijing for the 10the anniversary of Belt Road Initiative (BRI) on October 17-18. The research vessel reached Colombo on October 25, and crossed the Malacca Straits on December 2. The objections to both Shi Yan 6, which was expected to be back in Sri Lanka around March, and Xiang Yang Hong 3, were conveyed to Wickremesinghe by top Indian diplomatic interlocutors, the people added.