Notwithstanding concerns expressed by India Sri Lanka is all set to host two Chinese spy ships at its ports under the garb of conducting research activities in the Indian Ocean region, Colombo based media reports said.
The first Chinese naval vessel Shi Yang is scheduled to reach Colombo port on October 26th. A similar Chinese naval vessel Xiang Yang Hong 03 is scheduled to berth in a Sri Lankan port in January 2024
This is bound to trigger geopolitical concerns that fix Sri Lanka’s foreign policy handlers in a tricky situation to balance out its interests with other players in the region, particularly India according to Sri Lankan media reports.
India doled out five billion us dollars to the island nation rushed petroleum products rice and other essential goods when the Sri Lankan economy was in dire straits. It went out of the way to put pressure on International Monetary fund to provide financial assistance to that country.
Despite India’s resistance, Sri Lanka
permitted Shi Yang 6 to arrive in Sri Lankan waters in October to carry out
research in the Indian Ocean in partnership with National Aquatic Resources Research
and Development Agency (NARA). A team of officials from the NARA
would board Shi Yang 6 to observe research activities,
India, Japan and the United States are skeptical about Chinese Maritime activities in the Sri Lankan territorial waters since they fear that it is part of a major effort by China to systematically map the seabed across the vast swath of the Indian Ocean. They fear hydrographic data, collected in the process, can be used for security related purposes later.
Sri lankan government taking advantage of its unique geographical location being situated right on the east west trade lane is being courted by both India, western countries and China. Successive Sri Lankan governments have been playing one against another under the garb of pursuing a non aligned policy and extracting concessions from all.