Chinese spy ship departs from Sri Lanka, leaving India red-faced

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By S Jha

New Delhi, August 22: After seven days, Yuan Wang 5, which is stated to be a Chinese satellite and rocket launch tracking vessel, left the Hambantota Port in Sri Lanka. The local officials apparently were denied entry into the ship.

Even while External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar has sought to brush aside the concerns of an alleged spy ship docking so close to the Indian waters by stating that New Delhi cannot claim to have exclusivity in the neighbopurs’ zones, foreign policy commentators have been unconvinced.

The American commentators have mostly slammed India’s lack of depth with Sri Lanka despite being the sole savior of the island nation when it sunk to its worst humanitarian crisis.

One such commentators David J Karl has been scathing against India for its failure to stop Yaun Wang 5 from docking at the Hambantota Port.

Sri Lanka had first deferred the arrival of the ship following the protests by New Delhi, but subsequently Colombo seems to have allowed Beijing to arm-twist the island nation.

The Chinese commentators has sought to claim that Yuan Wang 5, one of seven such ships made by China so far to track its space programmes, which requires them to be docked at several places , is not at all a spy ship.

Ling Xin writing in the South China Post claimed that Yuan Wang 5, 222 metres long and 25 metres wide, which was built in 2007, had regularly been deployed in the international waters by its operator China satellite Maritime Tracking and Control Department.

The ship has its base port at Jiangyin near Shanghai on the Yangtze River, she claimed, adding that the vessel has been widely used as a backup for China’s manned space mission.

But the Indian diplomats have not been convinced, who have consistently maintained that Yuan Wang 5 is a military vessel from the stable of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), and part of the massive naval assets of Beijing, which is largest in the world.

Former Indian diplomats have been claiming that the Chinese nuclear submarines too will now get an easy access to the Sri Lankan waters. Such submarines had already been in the Sri Lankan waters in 2014, with the blessings of the ruling elites of Colombo.

Ironically, India extended Sri Lanka a credit line of $ 3.8 billion when the island nation slumped to its worst humanitarian crisis after defaulting on its foreign debt serving amounting to $ 52 billion. The Chinese assistance totaled just $ 73 million.

Yet, India just watched for a week a Chinese spy ship close to its shores.

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