SL asks for Chinese ship delay after Indian pressure

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COLOMBO (Reuters) – Sri Lanka has asked China to indefinitely delay a visit to a ship flagged by Indian media as a spy ship, following intense pressure from the island’s northern neighbor , official sources said on Saturday.

The Yuan Wang 5 is on its way from the Chinese port of Jiangyin and is expected to arrive at the Chinese-controlled Sri Lankan port of Hambantota on Thursday, according to analytics site MarineTraffic.

It is described as a research and survey vessel, but according to Indian broadcaster CNN-News18 it is a dual purpose spy ship, used for space and satellite tracking and with use specific in intercontinental ballistic missile launches.

Indian media reported that New Delhi feared the ship was being used to spy on its activities and had filed a complaint with Colombo.

India remains wary of China’s growing influence over its southern neighbor Sri Lanka.

New Delhi’s foreign ministry said last week that it would closely monitor “any impact on India’s security and economic interests and take all necessary measures to protect them”.

In a written request, the Sri Lankan foreign ministry asked the Chinese embassy in Colombo not to continue the visit, an official involved in the process told AFP on Saturday.

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