India Following China Satellite Tracking Vessel’s Visit To Sri Lanka Port

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India Following China Satellite Tracking Vessel’s Visit To Sri Lanka Port

 India's defence and security establishment is closely following the planned visit of a Chinese space and satellite tracking research vessel to the Hambantota Port next week, sources familiar with the development said on Monday.

There are apprehensions about the possibility of the vessel's tracking systems attempting to snoop on Indian installations while being on their way to the Sri Lankan port.

People familiar with the development said though the Chinese vessel 'Yuan Wang 5' is not a military platform, the visit could also be a precursor to similar forays by Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) ships to the island nation.

"It is a development that could have implications for India's security interests and we are keenly monitoring the proposed visit," said one of the people cited above.

The Chinese ship is reportedly visiting Hambantota Port from August 11 to 17, weeks after Sri Lanka witnessed a major political turmoil following massive mass protests over the country's worst economic crisis in decades.

It is learned that the Indian Navy would closely follow the journey as well as the stay of the ship in Sri Lankan waters.

The ties between India and Sri Lanka had come under strain after Colombo permitted a Chinese nuclear-powered submarine to dock in one of its ports in 2014. 

It is understood that India has already apprised Sri Lanka about its concerns over the proposed visit of the Chinese vessel to the Hambantota Port. However, there is no official confirmation about it.

When asked about reports on the ship's visit, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said last week that India carefully monitors any development having a bearing on its security and economic interests.

"We are aware of reports of a proposed visit by this vessel to Hambantota in August," he said.

"The government carefully monitors any development having a bearing on India's security and economic interests and takes all necessary measures to safeguard them," he added.

The southern deep-sea port of Hambantota is considered strategically important for its location. It has been developed largely with Chinese loans.