Lanka seeks to delay visit of China ship
Sri Lanka has asked China to indefinitely delay a visit by a ship reported by Indian media to be a spy vessel, following intense pressure by the island's northern neighbour, official sources said yesterday.
In a written request, the Sri Lanka foreign ministry told the Chinese embassy in Colombo not to go ahead with the visit, an official involved in the process told AFP yesterday.
"The ministry wishes to request that the arrival date of the vessel Yuan Wang 5 in Hambantota to be deferred until further consultations are made on this matter," the request says.
The Yuan Wang 5 is en route from the Chinese port of Jiangyin and due in the Chinese-run Sri Lankan port of Hambantota on Thursday, according to analytics website MarineTraffic.
It is described as a research and survey vessel, but according to Indian broadcaster CNN-News18 is a dual-use spy ship, employed for space and satellite tracking and with specific usage in intercontinental ballistic missile launches.
Earlier this week, Colombo appeared to brush aside Indian concerns, saying the vessel was coming only to refuel and replenish supplies and would not undertake any work in Sri Lankan waters.