Sri Lanka asks Chinese scientific research ship to delay arrival in Hong Kong
2022-08-08: [Article Link] Source: Global Times
On 6 June, India's New Delhi television station [Global Times Consolidated Report] quoted anonymous sources as reporting that Sri Lanka had requested China's Kokot, “Vision Five”, to postpone indefinitely its port arrival supply plan after being under great pressure from India. “Vision 5” arrived in the southern part of Sri Lanka at the port of Hanbantota on 5th of this month, originally scheduled for 11th. Earlier, media reports reported that the Indian government had protested to the Sri Lankan side because it believed that Prospect 5 might engage in “monitoring activities detrimental to its security interests.” It was reported that Sri Lankan government officials familiar with the relevant developments had revealed that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had sent a written request to the Chinese Embassy in Sz “to keep the Kokoko vessel from docking in Sri Lanka for the time being”. He said that Sri Lanka, for its part, would like to consult further with China on this matter before deciding on the arrival date of Prospect 5, and that the Indian News 18 News Network reported on the evening of 7 September that the Chinese Embassy in Sri Lanka was seeking urgent consultations with the Russian side regarding the suspension of the vessel. According to Indian media reports, the new president, Vikram Masingha, who had just taken office in the political crisis in Sri Lanka, said that “the controversial (stopping) visit would not take place as planned”. This statement was interpreted by the media as contrary to previous Sri Lankan attitudes. On 30 July, Sri Lanka's Ministry of Defence spokesman Naryn Herat stated that Prospective 5 had been allowed to dock for supplies such as fuel at the port of Hanbantota from 11 to 17 August, and stated that “a number of ships regularly travel to and from India, China, Japan and Australia is not worthy of any surprise”. The British Daily Mirror quotes the Sri Lankan Cabinet spokesman, Bandura Gunawardana, on 5th day, saying: “The Chinese ship docks only for refuelling and resupply, and the ship and its crew will not be involved in any matter in Sri Lanka.”
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China, in response to inquiries from foreign media, stated that China has always exercised its freedom of navigation on the high seas in accordance with the law, and hoped that China's marine scientific and research activities will be viewed and reported correctly and that it will not interfere with normal and legitimate maritime activities.
According to anonymous analysts to Global Times journalists, according to the 1987 bilateral agreement between India and Sri Lanka, no port in the country can be used for military purposes to the detriment of Indian interests, nor can the two countries engage in activities against the security of the other in their respective territories. However, the analyst pointed out that when Vikram Masinha took office, he proposed to “reduce the political dimension of trade relations”, exploit position advantages, exploit the potential of port logistics for economic development, and “suspension of normal foreign ships to call if they were to listen to India's so-called security concerns, there seems to be a suspicion of contradiction”.