|Chinese military survey ship docks again in Sri Lanka port|
The movement of ships has sparked a dispute between India and China, Sri Lanka's two biggest allies in the current economic crisis, as India fears China could use the port, near a major Asia-Europe shipping route, as a military base. The Chinese survey ship Yuan Wang 5 docked on Tuesday at the Chinese-built Hambantota port in Sri Lanka.
A port official said this was a move likely to stoke concerns in neighbors such as India about China's growing influence over its bigger and more powerful rival. "The ship will dock for three days," the official, who declined to be named because he was not authorized to speak to media, told Reuters from the southern port. "The purpose of staying at the port is to buy fuel, food and other necessities." Hours after the ship docked, a Sri Lankan cabinet spokesman said the island nation was working to ensure there was no friction between friendly nations.
"Even before this, there were ships from the United States, India and other countries that came to Sri Lanka," Media Minister Bandula Gunawardana told reporters. "We have allowed these ships to come in. In the same way, we have allowed Chinese ships to dock." Foreign security analysts describe the Yuan Wang 5 as one of China's newest generation space tracking ships, which are used to monitor the launch of satellites, rockets and intercontinental ballistic missiles.
The Pentagon said the Chinese survey ship Yuan Wang 5 was operated by the People's Liberation Army Strategic Support Force. On Saturday, Sri Lanka said it had agreed the ship could dock at Hambantota, despite security concerns raised by India and the United States.