India prohibits Chinese research vessel from entering economic zone, 'will harm rebuilding of trust': experts
Published: Nov 07, 2022 10:33 PM
<em>Yuan Wang 6</em> Photo: VCG

Yuan Wang 6 Photo: VCG

The Indian Navy is reportedly planning to stop China's Yuan Wang 6, a research and survey vessel, from entering the country's Exclusive Economic Zone, claiming that the vessel is a "spy ship" sent to the Indian Ocean Region to track India's missile tests. The move is seen by experts as hindering the rebuilding of mutual trust after years of standoff in the countries' border regions.

Some Indian media reports over the weekend claimed that China's Yuan Wang 6 entered the Indian Ocean region on Friday via the Lombok Straits, and was out to monitor India's scheduled ballistic missile launches off the coast of APJ Kalam Island this month. 

While foreign vessels, including warships, can freely sail through the economic zone, Indian law forbids any survey, research or exploration there by a foreign nation without permission, local media Economic Times reported on Sunday. 

However, Indian officials said that the ship was actually in the Indian Ocean to monitor Chinese satellite launches planned on November 12 and at the end of the month, according to a report by the Hindustan Times. 

As China's third-generation space-tracking ship, Yuan Wang 6 has taken part in 73 maritime monitoring and control missions, including China's Shenzhou manned spaceship missions, according to the Xinhua News Agency.

"The move reflects the Indian military's vigilance and lack of confidence in dealing with China. It is clear to all that Yuan Wang 6 is not a military vessel, and its passing harmlessly through the zone is totally normal and legitimate," Qian Feng, director of the research department at the National Strategy Institute at Tsinghua University, told the Global Times on Monday.

In 2019, the Indian Navy also forced the Chinese research vessel Shi Yan 1 out of India's economic zone after it was found "lurking near Port Blair," local media reports said. 

India has been wary of China "expanding its influence" in the Indian Ocean over the years and has tried every possible means to prevent it, Qian said, adding that such a long-term attitude is not conducive to the improvement of ties or the restoration of trust between the two largest neighbors in Asia.  

Against the backdrop of the prolonged standoff in their border regions, India has repeatedly emphasized the rebuilding of trust. However, such actions by the Indian military will only run counter to their own words, the expert noted. 

In addition to harming the development of ties between the two countries, abusing laws and conventions to interfere or even suppress the legitimate scientific research activities of other countries is also not the proper way of doing things for a mature world power, observers said.