Sri Lanka has said a Chinese state-operated research and survey ship will only visit the country to refuel as tensions in the region rise.
India had expressed concern about the voyage of the 11,000-dwt Yuan Wang 5 (built 2007) to the port of Hambantota, a $1.5bn Chinese-built facility that India worries could be used as a military base.
“It is coming to refuel and not for any other purpose,” cabinet spokesman Bandula Gunawardana told reporters, adding that the country’s foreign minister had briefed Sri Lanka’s new President Ranil Wickremesinghe on the matter.
“President told Cabinet that diplomatic efforts will be made to work with both countries so as not to create any issues,” Gunawardana said.
China last week said it hoped “relevant parties” would refrain from interfering with its legitimate maritime activities.
The country has ramped up military drills off Taiwan in response to US House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi’s recent visit to the island.
India has spent billions of dollars recently to help Sri Lanka through its economic crisis.
The country said it has been monitoring the planned visit of the Chinese ship.
Diplomatic relations between India and China have been strained since 2020 after clashes between troops along a remote Himalayan border.
Foreign security analysts have described the Yuan Wang 5 as one of China’s latest space-tracking ships, used to monitor satellite, rocket and intercontinental ballistic missile launches.
The US believes the series of Yuan Wang ships are operated by the Strategic Support Force of the People’s Liberation Army.
Equasis lists the Yuan Wang 5 as owned by China Satellite Launch of Jiangsu.
Insurer Swedish Club earlier issued a warning to its members that China’s planned military exercises off Taiwan will compromise safety.
The Gothenburg-based protection and indemnity mutual said the country’s no-go areas — known as warning zones — are all close to the major Taiwanese ports of Keelung, Suao, Taipei, Kaohsiung, Anping, Hoping and Hualien.