Sri Lanka's official permission of Chinese ship conducting research shows diplomatic independence: expert
Published: Oct 29, 2023 09:04 PM
Chinese research ship <em>Shiyan 6</em> arrives near a port in Colombo on October 25, 2023. Photo: VCG

Chinese research ship Shiyan 6 arrives near a port in Colombo on October 25, 2023. Photo: VCG

After Sri Lanka on Sunday granted a 48-hour window for a Chinese vessel to conduct marine research off the island's west coast under supervision, Chinese experts noted that it reflects that Sri Lanka has diplomatic independence, and its will to have more independence in the future under intense pressure from India. 

According to media reports, Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Kapila Fonseka said the Chinese research ship Shiyan 6, which has been in Colombo since Wednesday, would be allowed to carry out work for two days starting Monday.

The Shiyan 6 is the first medium-sized comprehensive scientific research vessel in China that focuses on geophysical surveys and also meets the needs of multidisciplinary scientific investigations. It has the capability of global navigation and all-weather observations, and its technological level and research capabilities have reached international advanced levels, according to the Sri Lanka Overseas Chinese Association.

However, a report in the Hindustan Times on Wednesday asserted that it is a dual-purpose vessel and said it was "not only for maritime survey but also seabed survey for future operations of the Chinese Navy in the Indian Ocean."

Qian Feng, director of the research department at the National Strategy Institute at Tsinghua University, told the Global Times on Sunday that Sri Lanka's decision to allow Shiyan 6 to conduct research for 48 hours is a manifestation of Sri Lanka's diplomatic independence.

Qian noted that Sri Lanka is facing pressure from India on one hand, but at the same time hopes to maintain a friendly and stable bilateral relationship with China. 

India and Sri Lanka enjoy very close ties because of their long geographical, historical and cultural ties, and India has considerable influence on Sri Lanka's economic and state affairs, according to Qian. 

"Therefore, despite the high pressure exerted by India, Sri Lanka's announcement reflects independence in its diplomatic strategy, and that the country also hopes to have greater independence in the future," Qian added.

The expert predicted that India media's hype about the Chinese ship will not stop during the upcoming research conducted by Shiyan 6

Facing the persistent hype, Qian noted that China respects the policy choice made by Sri Lanka, as the country, a member of the United Nations, has the legitimate right to choose its own development path and pursue an independent foreign policy. 

Meanwhile, the expert called on India to stop its hype, because maintaining a healthy and stable China-India relationship serves the fundamental interests of the people of both countries. 

"India should contribute to the improvement and stability of bilateral relations, rather than sabotage them," the expert noted.