Sri Lanka said that Yuan Wang-5 will be in Hambantota for refuelling but experts fear that the spy ship will study India’s nuclear, maritime and coastal facilities

Sri Lankan authorities have confirmed that the Chinese spy ship Yuan Wang-5 will dock in Sri Lanka’s Hambantota Port on August 11, news agencies reported.

The ship will remain docked in Hambantota from August 11 to August 17.

Union ministry of external affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi last week clearly outlined that India “carefully monitors any development having a bearing on its security and economic interests”.

The arrival of the spy ship is expected to raise tensions between New Delhi and Beijing as it did when Sri Lanka allowed nuclear-powered submarine Changzheng-2 to dock at its port in 2014.

Sri Lanka, which is facing an economic crisis, got support from India worth more than $4.5 billion this year alone.

Despite the help extended, the Sri Lankan government chose to confirm the development only when Indian officials took note.

India lodged a verbal protest with the Sri Lankan government highlighting the matter last week.

Sri Lanka, in a signal that it will accommodate the Chinese spy ship, said the ship will be in Hambantota for a week to refuel and replenish, news agency the Hindu reported quoting Sri Lankan defence ministry spokesperson Nalin Herath.

The Pentagon said that the Strategic Support Force of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) runs these Yuan Wang-5 spy ships which is used to monitor satellite, rocket and intercontinental ballistic missile launches, Reuters reported.

The Sri Lankan government earlier refuted reports that the spy ship is en route to Hambantota but later confirmed that it is headed towards the port.

India considers the Indian Ocean Region as an area of traditional influence and will not tolerate any challenges to its legitimate strategic interests.

A separate report by news agency the IslandLK said that there are speculations that the Sri Lankan government may deny access to the Chinese spy ship.

However, it should be noted that the Sri Lankan government has very little power when it comes to the administration of the Hambantota Port.

The nation, which is almost bankrupt, formally handed over commercial activities to China Merchant Port Holdings in 2017, on a 99-year lease, after failing to repay its debts.

Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu political outfit Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) founder S Ramadoss on Sunday expressed concern over the Chinese spy ship Yuan Wang-5 docking in Sri Lanka’s Hambantota Port this week, according to a report by DTNext.

“Chinese spy ship Yuan Wang-5 is set to reach Hambantota port on August 11 and will be stationed for one week. The ship is a threat to India and particularly to southern states including Tamil Nadu as the ship can read all facilities up to 750 kilometres using the satellites,” Ramadoss said in a statement accessed by DTNext.

He also added that if spy ship Yuan Wang-5 is allowed to dock at the Hambantota port, it will pose a risk for the Kudankulam and Kalpakkam nuclear reactors as well as for the Chennai and Thoothukudi ports.

The spy ship is also accused of violating passage requirements in territorial seas as per the United Nations Convention on the Law of Sea (UNCLOS).