According to sources in the defence and security establishment on Tuesday, India is concerned about China’s visit of a satellite tracking ship to Sri Lanka’s Hambantota port as it indicates an effort on the part of China to increase its maritime influence in the area. According to Sri Lankan officials in Colombo, the ship, the Yuan Wang 5, landed at the strategically positioned port on Tuesday morning for a week-long refuelling stay.
Sources in the Indian defence and security establishment claimed that the ship’s visit could be used to spy on Indian sites rather than just restock supplies.
They claimed that India had previously expressed to Sri Lanka its opposition to such attempts and that India’s worries extended beyond just one visit.
The ship was supposed to arrive at the port of Hambantota on August 11 but was delayed because the Sri Lankan government refused to give it clearance.
Due to India’s worries, Sri Lanka had requested that China postpone the visit. Colombo gave the port permission to receive the ship from August 16 to 22 on Saturday.
There were worries in New Delhi that the ship’s tracking equipment would try to snoop on Indian sites while it was travelling to the port in Sri Lanka.
A source stated, “We are keenly observing the ship’s visit.”
India delivered a Dornier maritime surveillance aircraft to Sri Lanka a day before the ship anchored in Hambantota port.
According to the Ministry of External Affairs, the aircraft would be a force multiplier that would help Sri Lanka more effectively combat issues like smuggling, drug and human trafficking, and other organised forms of crime in its coastal waters.
In light of the present threats to Sri Lanka’s marine security, it was stated that the aircraft’s introduction was appropriate.