The Foreign Ministry has received a request from the Chinese embassy for permission for another Chinese research vessel to enter Sri Lankan waters early next year
The fresh request came less than a month after the arrival of the Chinese research vessel Shi Yan 6, which received permission to enter Sri Lankan waters despite security concerns raised by India.
This request comes at a moment when China has expanded its presence and oceanographic activities in the Indian Ocean.
Increased naval presence: China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has been steadily increasing its presence in the Indian Ocean, conducting regular patrols and exercises. In 2017, China established its first overseas military base in Djibouti on the Horn of Africa, further solidifying its presence in the region.
China has invested heavily in port development projects across the Indian Ocean, including in Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and Myanmar.
China has participated in anti-piracy operations in the Indian Ocean, including escorting commercial ships and conducting anti-piracy training exercises with regional navies. This has been welcomed by some countries as a contribution to regional security.
China has undertaken oceanographic surveys, marine biodiversity studies, and climate change research.
China’s activities in the Indian Ocean have been met with mixed reactions from regional powers. Some countries, such as Sri Lanka and Pakistan, have welcomed China’s investments and economic engagement. Others, such as India, have expressed concern about China’s growing military presence and its potential to disrupt the region’s security balance.
A Foreign Affairs Ministry has not processed The fresh request is for Xiang Yang Hong 03, a vessel that engages in oceanographic surveys and research studies. Built in 2016, its current draft is reported to be 6.1 meters with a length of 99.8 meters and a width of 17.8 meters, according to Marine Traffic, a digital platform that tracks vessel movements.
The vessel is to visit Sri Lankan waters early next year.
Many in the diplomatic circles speculate that the visit of Xiang Yang Hong 03 may elicit a strong reaction from India.