lanka: Sri Lanka’s call to allow Chinese ship cleared by Gotabaya Rajapaksa

Sri Lanka’s decision to allow spy ship Yuan Wang 5 at the Hambotata Port was reportedly taken at the level of Gotabaya Rajapaksa before he fled the country and China had exploited Lanka’s economic vulnerabilities to influence Colombo’s decision.

Beijing has allegedly exploited Colombo’s requirements to overcome economic crisis and pushed the Gotabaya government to enable docking of the spy ship, ET has learnt.

The succeeding government of Ranil Wickremesignhe is not in a position to overturn the decision given the fact that Colombo requires financial support from China to overcome the current economic crisis, ET has further learnt.

Meanwhile, India has reached out to military officials near the Hambantota Port ahead of ‘Yuan Wang 5’ visit to the port from August 11 to 17.

The officials of the Consulate General of India in Hambantota met Major General Lanka Amarapala, the Commanding Officer of the 12th Division of the Sri Lankan Army, on Thursday. India’s consul general Dipin P R, was accompanied by Assistant Defence Advisor, Lt Col Puneet Sushil, during the meeting.

Earlier they met Group Captain Ashoka Koralage, the Commanding Officer of the Sri Lankan Air Force base at Weerawila near Hambantota, according to officials.

The Lankan Ministry of Defence has sought to play down the arrival of China’s research ship, apparently for surveying the northwestern part of the Indian Ocean. It sought to allay New Delhi’s concerns, stating that Yuan Wang would dock at Hambantota Port only for refuelling and replenishing its stock of food and other essentials.

China’s debt-trap diplomacy had earlier made Sri Lanka lease out its Hambantota Port for 99 years.

“The government carefully monitors any developments having a bearing on India’s security and economic interests, and takes all necessary measures to safeguard them,” Arindam Bagchi, the spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, said in New Delhi last week, adding: “I think that should be a clear message.”

The then Sri Lankan government led by Mahinda Rajapaksa as President had in 2014 allowed a Chinese submarine dock at the Colombo Port for days, following which the matter was raised at the highest level.

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