Sri Lanka has asked China to indefinitely delay a visit by its Yuan Wang 5 ship en route from the Chinese port of Jiangyin to Chinese-run Sri Lankan port of Hambantota following intense pressure by India, official sources said Saturday, AFP reported.
Earlier in the day, amid security concerns over the Chinese military vessel, the Sri Lankan Foreign Affairs Ministry had asked the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to stall the arrival of its space-satellite spy ship Yuan Wang 5 at Hambantota port "until further consultations."
In its release, the Sri Lankan Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced, "The visit of China's space-satellite tracker ship Yuan Wang 5 at Hambantota port has been deferred until further consultations are made between the two governments."
"Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka avails itself of this opportunity to renew to the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in Colombo, the assurances of its higheest consideration."
The Chinese have described the ship as the research and survey vessel, however, according to a CNN-News18 report, the Yuan Wang 5 is a dual-use spy ship, employed for space and satellite tracking and with specific usage in intercontinental ballistic missile launches.
Earlier, India raised concerns about the Chinese spy vessel's docking at Hambantota that is capable of mapping the entire ocean critical to anti-submarine operations of the Chinese Navy, the island ministry of Foreign Affairs penned to the Chinese government to defer its arrival.
India has remained suspicious of China's growing influence in its southern neighbour Sri Lanka which could be a threat to India as well.
The Sri Lankan foreign ministry had last week said that it is closely monitoring "any bearing on India's security and economic interests and takes all necessary measures to safeguard them".
In a written request, the Sri Lanka foreign ministry told the Chinese embassy in Colombo not to go ahead with the visit, an official involved in the process told AFP on Saturday.
As per a release by the Chinese ministry, the Chinese 'scientific research vessel' Yuan Wang 5, will enter Hambantota port on August 11 for a week and it is expected to leave on August 17 after replenishment.
The Yuan Wang 5 will conduct satellite control and research tracking of China’s satellites in the North Western part of the Indian Ocean region through August and September.
(with sources inputs)