- Sri Lankan government has decided to not allow a Chinese spy ship to dock at Hambantota
- The decision came after the Modi government expressed its reservations about the plan
- The whole world is busy finding a way to counter China and its nefarious activities
- India has sent a strong message to the world by thwarting China’s jingoism
Diplomacy is tough, it’s bone-crunching as it sometimes involves decades of patience. Well, India is lucky in this regard. Jaishankar’s team had to persevere only for a few years to get Lankans on the Indian side. China is now getting kicked out of the island nation.
No Chinese military ship in Lanka
Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe has made it clear to the Chinese that even if Hambantota Port has been leased off by them, the site will not become a strategic hub of Communist nation. Wickremesinghe has asked China to defer the arrival of Chinese military vessel on the port. Even docking will not be allowed by the new Lankan administration.
In a letter to the Chinese Embassy, Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry said, “The ministry wishes to request that the arrival date of the vessel Yuan Wang 5 in Hambantota to be deferred until further consultations are made on this matter,”. Though the official letter is in the form of “request to postpone”, the Lankan President has assured local politicians that Yuan Wang 5 will not visit Hambantota.
India did it
Apparently, the decision came after India conveyed its reservations about the docking. Yuan Wang 5 has already left China’s Jiangyin port and was scheduled to take guard at Hambantota on 11th of August. According to the officials, permission for docking the ship was granted by the pro-China Rajapaksha government.
India is the only neighbour which came forward to rescue Sri Lanka with more than $4 billion in the first 8 months of the current year. The decision to allow Chinese Military vessel in Hambantota did not go down well with the Indian government. India objected strongly to the plan and held multiple rounds of discussions with the concerned authorities in Sri Lanka.
Chinese spy ship
Apart from being Chinese, the other reason for India’s concern is that the vessel is not what the Chinese have declared it to be. China calls it a research and survey vessel. However, several reports have emerged stating it is a dual-use spy ship for space and satellite tracking.
It has satellite antennas and other equipment specifically designed for spying purposes. Allowing it to station and refuel for a week in Hambantota would have exposed various strategic infrastructures of India to Chinese eyes. These include six ports and Kalpakkam and Kudankulam nuclear power stations.
Madness dominating Chinese Foreign Policy
The decision to halt the ship also holds immense significance in the current geopolitical environment. Hyper-nationalism is the only thing which Jinping can use to gain support from the Chinese public and his own party members. But, his image has taken a hit since Nancy Pelosi left Taiwan unscathed. An unstable Chinese regime is hovering aircrafts over Taiwan to re-assert its perceived dominance.
Simultaneously, India has been talking to the Chinese on the border issues. Even after more than 15 rounds of negotiations in the aftermath of Galwan valley skirmishes, the Indian side is not ready to shift its goal post. Apparently, bunkering at the Hambantota was a Chinese trick of testing the waters.
Countering China’s “One step at a time”
If India would not have objected to it, the Chinese would have considered India a pushover. Next time, they would specifically state that a Chinese spy vessel would be docked at a particular location. This strategy is effective since it involves ceding space 1 inch at a time and the most important part is that it comes with rival’s implicit consent.
China, Pakistan and a slew of other nations in the BRI vicinity fell for it. On its part, previous governments have also done blunders by not decoding the soft coercion tactics of China, but the Modi government didn’t fall for it.
Sri Lanka did try to assure India that it won’t allow China to carry out spying actions, but frankly it does not have the capacity to do so. That is why India asked for withdrawal of the decision to allow the Chinese ship to dock at Hambantota. One week is too much for a highly neurotic person like Jinping.
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