China has played down the high profile visit
of its spy ship to Hambantota port saying such
visits are very natural. Chinese ambassador to Sri Lanka Qi Zhenhong was
there at the port to receive the vessel this morning according to Sri Lankan
This kind of research ship visiting Sri Lanka
is very natural. In 2014 a similar ship came here," Zhenhong told
reporters when asked about the visit. Asked about the Indian concerns, the
Ambassador said, "I don't know, you should ask the Indian friends
Several parliamentarians from the breakaway group of the
ruling Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna party were also present.
The ship maintained a very strict security
operation with no one being allowed on board. The Sri Lankan decision to
postpone the visit caused much controversy in the country as the visit had been
cleared in mid-July.
Commenting on the ship's arrival, the Cabinet
spokesman Bandula Gunawardena said the
issue was settled amicably. "Relations with all countries are important to
us," Gunawardena said.
India has traditionally taken a stern view of
Chinese military vessels in the Indian Ocean and has protested such visits with
Sri Lanka in the past.
The ties between India and Sri Lanka had come
under strain after Colombo permitted a Chinese nuclear-powered submarine to
dock in one of its ports in 2014 when Mr Mahinda Rajapakshe was the Sri Lankan