Given its hegemonic actions and blatant breach of international protocols in the recent past, China’s move to dock its spy ship in Sri Lanka must be viewed with suspicion. India’s concerns in this regard are quite justified as the ‘Yuan Wang 5’ is a powerful tracking vessel whose significant aerial reach – reportedly around 750 kms – means that several ports in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh could be on China’s radar. There are fears that several vital installations in south India too could be under threat of being snooped upon. This comes even as the border dispute between India and China remains unresolved.
There is no progress in the talks to resolve the dispute in eastern Ladakh which witnessed bloody clashes between soldiers of both the countries. The Chinese continue to act aggressively and are not cooperating in the peace talks. Ever since the Chinese took the Hambantota port on a 99-year lease in 2017, India and the United States have voiced concern that it could harm their interests. Ships of the Yuan Wang class can monitor the lands they pass. Colombo leased the Hambantota port to China Merchants Port Holdings after Sri Lanka was unable to keep its loan repayment commitments. In the past too, India has taken a strong view of the presence of Chinese military vessels in the Indian Ocean and has raised the matter with Colombo without much success. It is unfortunate that Sri Lanka has chosen to ignore India’s security concerns and instead allowed itself to be prevailed over by Beijing’s financial and strategic muscle.