- The average number of Chinese-flagged commerce ships and fishing boats operating in the IOR at any given time is 300.
- the truth is that they are actually keeping an eye on satellite activities and missile test launches in the area
The Sri Lankan government permitted the Chinese strategic support ship Yuan Wang 5, posing as a marine scientific research vessel, to land at Hambantota Port, which Beijing has leased to it for 99 years, at 4:00 am this morning. Till August 21, this ship will be at the Chinese port.
The Ranil Wickremesinghe administration failed to withstand pressure from the Xi Jinping administration after postponing the spy ship’s docking at Hambantota port between August 11 and 17 in order to conduct additional consultations. Beijing threatened to obstruct a crucial IMF loan that would have forced Colombo into official bankruptcy.
Such is the influence of China in Sri Lanka that Mahinda Rajapaksa, a close ally of Beijing, argued in front of the president, prime minister, and other government officials on August 8 in favour of allowing the ship to land despite what he claimed were Indian objections.
Diplomats based in Sri Lanka claim that over the past ten years, the number of Chinese surveillance ships posing as research vessels has progressively increased in the Indian Ocean region (IOR). Since 2020, 53 so-called Chinese research vessels have reportedly been observed in the Indian Ocean region, where three to five of these spy ships are believed to be active at any given time.
By conducting joint surveys with IOR littoral governments and providing access to strategically significant areas within a third country’s exclusive economic zone, the deployment of such vessels serves the Xi Jinping administration as a tool for maritime diplomacy.
These spy ships are operating in the following areas, according to analysis of the so-called research vessel deployments in the IOR:
1. Ninety Degree East Ridge, which could serve as a forerunner to China’s application for exploration rights with the International Seabed Authority (ISA), is for deep-sea searching for rare earth minerals.
2. Deep sea exploration in the South West Indian Ridge for the mining of polymetallic sulphides in areas designated by ISA
3. Pakistan and Myanmar EEZ for hydrography, marine surveillance, and geological survey for petroleum exploration
4. Sri Lanka’s Exclusive Economic Zone, the Bay of Bengal, the Arabian Sea, and the remaining IOR for studying the ocean floor, testing the salinity for sonar applications, and surveillance.
The average number of Chinese-flagged commerce ships and fishing boats operating in the IOR at any given time is 300. While the so-called research vessels purport to be engaged in hydrological surveys and metal prospecting, the truth is that they are actually keeping an eye on satellite activities and missile test launches in the area, particularly in the US, Australia, and India, using ships like the Yuan Wang 5.