SL Announces  Ban On  Research Vessels

SL Announces Ban On Research Vessels

Ship, Wrapping Up a Year of Geopolitical Maneuvering in the Indian Ocean

As 2023 draws to a close, Sri Lanka has taken a strong stand in the Indian Ocean’s intricate geopolitical game. Just weeks after India and the US raised concerns, Colombo has slapped a one-year ban on all foreign research vessels entering its waters, effectively barring the Chinese research vessel Xiang Yang Hong 3 from its planned “deep water exploration” mission.

This move comes hot on the heels of Prime Minister Modi’s July 2023 meeting with Sri Lankan President Wickremesinghe, where security concerns surrounding Chinese maritime activities were high on the agenda. Notably, India had previously objected to Colombo allowing the Chinese research vessel Shi Yan 6 to conduct joint surveys in October 2023.

The moratorium signals a potential shift in Sri Lanka’s diplomatic posture towards China. It also reflects growing anxiety about the increasing Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean, with at least 25 Chinese ships, including warships and research vessels, operating in the region throughout 2023.

2023 witnessed intense competition for influence in the IOR, with China steadily expanding its footprint and India and the US keeping a watchful eye. As we enter 2024, Sri Lanka’s decision adds another layer of complexity to the geopolitical landscape, leaving observers to ponder its long-term ramifications for regional stability and security

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