China’s Vessel Shi Yan 6 Prepares to Dock at Colombo Port Raising Doubts Over Sri Lanka’s Promises to India


India has shared its concerns with Sri Lanka multiple times on the issue of maritime security. But, still, a new Chinese marine research vessel, Shi Yan 6 is expected to dock at Colombo and Hambantota deep sea ports in Sri Lanka by October this year. Sri Lanka has not given the green signal to Shi Yan 6 yet, but India’s strategic community is expecting Sri Lanka’s nod. The Shi Yan 6 is likely to stay till November 2023.

The development comes as Sri Lanka President Ranil Wickremesinghe recently visited India and assured Prime Minister Narendra Modi that the country will take care of India’s sensitive security and strategic concerns.

This is not the first time Sri Lanka will give space to China’s military vessels as in August 2022, a Chinese vessel known for its role in tracking ballistic missiles, Yuan Wang 5, successfully moored at the harbor of Hambantota.

Shi Yan 6 boasting a substantial weight of 3,999 tons and originating from Guangzhou, is presently situated within the South China Sea and is currently navigating in a southern direction. This is another crucial Chinese vessel planning to dock at Colombo after China’s 138-member warship Hai Yang 24 Hao is currently docked at the port and is expected to leave today, as per the reports.

Moreover, it has come to light that researchers affiliated with Sri Lanka’s National Aquatic Resources Research and Development Agency (NARA), colloquially known as NARA, are set to commence a scientific expedition aboard the vessel Shi Yan 6. Their primary objective is to carry out an extensive survey encompassing both the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the island nation and the region of the southern Indian Ocean.

The Indian government has released no official word on the matter but as per Hindustan Times, the officials are engaging with Sri Lanka at the highest diplomatic levels.

China encircling Indian Ocean Region

Sri Lanka is part of China’s so-called “String of Pearls” which works with the objective to encircle Indian Ocean Region by establishing a military presence on all sides. It implies a series of strategic ports and naval bases that China has been developing or investing in, primarily through economic and infrastructure projects, with the potential to enhance its influence and presence in key locations.

China has taken multiple steps in the same direction, a new naval port in Cambodia being another one. These facilities could potentially serve as forward bases for China’s naval forces, allowing them to operate further from their home ports and project power across the Indian Ocean.

Source: Live Mint