New Delhi, September 18
After over a year, another Chinese ocean research vessel has been cleared by the Sri Lankan Ministry of Defence to dock at Colombo. The ship will operate for nearly three months in the east Indian Ocean region.
Chinese “research ships”’ usually have dual purposes — while the primary aim is scientific exploration, what raises the hackles of other countries is the geopolitical purposes for which they are also deployed. In case of Shi Yan 6, a Chinese statement said the ship 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 Belt and Road Initiative”.
The ship, “Shi Yan 6” will arrive at Sri Lanka a year after another research ship Yuan Wang 5 had docked at Hambantota port in August last year.
Following the security concerns raised by India and the US, Sri Lanka did allow its docking but stipulated that it must keep the Automatic Identification System (AIS) switched on within its exclusive economic xone (EEZ) and did not conduct any scientific research. The docking had also led to a war of words between Indian and Chinese diplomats.
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