Chinese military survey ship docks at Sri Lanka port

Colombo (Reuters) – The Chinese survey vessel Yuan Wang 5 has docked at Sri Lanka’s Chinese-built Hambantota port, Refinitiv data and local media showed on Tuesday.

The ship has been a bone of contention between India and China, two of Sri Lanka’s biggest benefactors in its current economic crisis. India fears its bigger and more powerful rival China will use the Hambantota port near the main Asia-Europe shipping route as a military base.

Foreign security analysts describe the Yuan Wang 5 as one of China’s latest generation space-tracking ships, used to monitor satellite, rocket and intercontinental ballistic missile launches.

The Pentagon says the Yuan Wang ships are operated by the Strategic Support Force of the People’s Liberation Army.

Sri Lanka said on Saturday it had agreed that the Yuan Wang 5 could dock at Hambantota, despite security concerns raised by India and the United States.

India has rejected claims that it has put pressure on Sri Lanka to turn the vessel away.