A high-tech Chinese research ship that was supposed to dock at Sri Lanka’s southern port of Hambantota has not berthed as planned, the country’s ports authority said on Friday, days after India expressed security concerns over its presence in the island nation. Chinese ballistic missile and satellite tracking ship ‘Yuan Wang 5’ was to arrive on Thursday and remain at the port until August 17 for replenishment.
The Harbour Master of the Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA) said that the ship did not arrive at the port as planned. The ship is awaiting clearance to enter from its location 600 nautical miles away east of Hambantota, local officials said. On July 12, Sri Lankan foreign ministry had granted approval for the vessel’s docking at the Hambantota Port. On August 8, the ministry in a letter to the Chinese Embassy in Colombo requested for deferring the planned docking of the ship.
It, however, did not specify the reason for such a request. ‘Yuan Wang 5’ had already entered the Indian Ocean by that time. Sri Lanka’s request for postponement came after the Indian government had raised strong objections to the visit citing security concerns. The SLPA said that although a Chinese company is in charge of the Hambantota port, the navigation and operational issues are handled by it.
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