India's Security Apprehensions:Shi Yan 6 Docked in Sri Lanka

  Oct 30, 2023

Security Concerns Regarding Shi Yan 6's Docking at Colombo Port

Why is India concerned about the Shi Yan 6 docking in Sri Lanka?

India is worried that the Shi Yan 6, a Chinese research vessel, could potentially snoop on its defense assets.
The ship conducts seabed surveys, which are instrumental for submarine operations, a key concern for India's security in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).

What are seabed surveys and why are they important?

Seabed surveys are investigations of the underwater topography. They are important for understanding oceanic conditions, which in turn are crucial for submarine operations. In the case of the Shi Yan 6, these surveys are suspected to support the People’s Liberation Army Navy of China.

What did Sri Lanka's government say about allowing the Shi Yan 6 to dock?

Sri Lanka's foreign ministry stated that the vessel had been authorized to dock in Colombo, where a Chinese state-owned company operates a deep-sea container terminal. This was despite earlier assurances from Sri Lanka to India about respecting its security concerns.

How does this affect India-Sri Lanka relations?

The decision by Sri Lanka to allow the vessel to dock complicates its diplomatic relationship with India.
This is especially true as the action contradicts prior assurances by Sri Lanka's president, Ranil Wickremesinghe, to safeguard India's strategic and security interests.

What was India's diplomatic response?

External affairs minister S Jaishankar had visited Colombo earlier to express India’s concerns about Chinese vessels docking in Sri Lankan ports.
However, these concerns appear to have been set aside by Sri Lanka, particularly after President Wickremesinghe’s recent visit to Beijing.

Is this part of a larger Chinese strategy in the Indian Ocean?

Military planners in India believe that China has a long-term plan to operate in the IOR.
China has set up a submarine base in Bangladesh and provided submarines to Bangladesh and Myanmar. These actions point towards an increasing Chinese naval presence close to India's territorial waters.

What can India do in this situation?

Indian naval officials say that unless the Chinese vessel does something overtly hostile, not much can be done as the ship falls under the surveyor ship category, which is technically not a warship.


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