Chinese tracking vessel may dock at port, Sri Lanka says

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Sri Lanka has given approval for a Chinese tracking vessel used to monitor satellites, rockets and intercontinental ballistic missiles and dock at its southernmost port.

The Yuan Wang 5 is due to arrive on Tuesday August 16 at the island nation’s southernmost port, the Chinese-controlled Hambantota – despite security concerns raised by giant neighbor India and the United States.

Foreign security analysts describe the Yuan Wang 5 as one of China’s latest generation space tracking vessels. The ship was launched in 2007 and has a displacement of 25,000.

China and India have tried to extend their influence to Sri Lanka, which is facing its worst economic crisis in its post-independence history.

SEE ALSO: Sri Lanka says IMF bailout talks should resume

Military base?

India has provided more aid to Sri Lanka this year than any other nation. But he fears that bigger and more powerful rival China is using the port of Hambantota near the main Asia-Europe shipping route as a military base.

Sri Lanka formally handed over commercial operations at the port to a Chinese company in 2017 on a 99-year lease after struggling to repay debt.

The Pentagon says the Yuan Wang ships are operated by the People’s Liberation Army Strategic Support Force.

India on Friday dismissed claims that it pressured Sri Lanka to turn back the ship.

“We categorically reject ‘innuendo’ and such a statement about India. Sri Lanka is a sovereign country and makes its own decisions independently,” said Arindam Bagchi, spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry.

  • Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard.

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Jim Pollard

Jim Pollard is an Australian journalist based in Thailand since 1999. He worked for News Ltd newspapers in Sydney, Perth, London and Melbourne before touring South East Asia in the late 1990s. leader of The Nation for over 17 years and has a family in Bangkok.

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