New Delhi: After a Chinese warship docked at Colombo port on Thursday, India said that it was “monitoring” all developments that might affect security concerns and is prepared to take necessary actions to safeguard its interests.
The Sri Lankan Navy announced that the 129 metre-long Chinese ship Hai Yang 24 Hao, manned by a crew of 138, arrived in Colombo on August 10 and was scheduled to leave in a day.
The Sri Lankan newspaper Daily Mirror had reported that Chinese authorities had sought permission for it to arrive earlier, but Sri Lanka delayed permission because of resistance from India.
The newspaper quoted an “informed source” as stating that Sri Lanka had briefed India about the Chinese ship making a port call in Colombo.
Last year, India had protested, but could not prevent Sri Lanka from allowing a ‘research ship’ Yuan Wang 5 from docking at Hambantota port.
During the media briefing on Friday, the Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi was asked about India’s position on the Colombo port call by the Chinese warship.
Bagchi responded first that he was “not sure whether it was a warship or not”. At the same time, he added, “I will only say that having seen these reports, I would emphasise that the government carefully monitors any development having a bearing on India’s security interests and takes all necessary measures to defend them.”
Incidentally, The Hindu quoted the Sri Lankan defence ministry spokesperson as saying that India had not raised any concern through official channels. “India is fully aware of the vessel’s visit and has not expressed any concern over it. India and Sri Lanka are on the same page,” said Ministry of Defence spokesperson Colonel Nalin Herath.
Following the controversy over the Chinese ‘research ship’, the Sri Lankan government adopted a proposal for Standard Operating Procedure to grant clearance for requests of port calls of foreign military vessels and aircraft. The Sri Lankan cabinet approved the decision last month.