Indian and Chinese foreign ministers were to attend a regional conference in Uzbekistan yesterday, a day after New Delhi expressed concern over a Chinese military ship’s planned visit to a strategic port in India’s southern neighbor Sri Lanka.
New Delhi worries that the Chinese-built and leased Hambantota port will be used by China as a military base in India’s backyard. The US$1.5 billion port is near the main shipping route from Asia to Europe.
Relations between India and China have been strained since armed clashes on their border two years ago killed at least 20 Indian and four Chinese soldiers.
Shipping data from Refinitiv Eikon showed the research and survey vessel Yuan Wang 5 was en route to Hambantota, Sri Lanka, and was expected to arrive on Aug. 11, as the country is facing its worst economic crisis in seven decades. India has provided its neighbor with nearly US$4 billion in support this year alone.
Foreign security analysts describe the Yuan Wang 5 as one of China’s latest generation of space-tracking ships, which monitors satellite, rocket and intercontinental ballistic missile launches.
The Pentagon’s annual report on China’s military modernization says the Yuan Wang ships are operated by the Strategic Support Force of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.
The Indian government is monitoring the planned visit of the Chinese ship, Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Arindam Bagchi said on Thursday, adding that New Delhi would protect its security and economic interests.
Bagchi declined to say if Indian Minister of External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar would meet his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi (王毅) at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) meeting in the Uzbek capital, Tashkent. SCO members include China, India, Russia, Pakistan and central Asian nations.
Sri Lanka is a “dialogue partner” in the group, but it was not immediately clear if it was attending.
India has lodged a verbal protest with the Sri Lankan government against the ship’s visit.
A Sri Lankan consulting firm, Belt & Road Initiative Sri Lanka, said on its Web site that the Yuan Wang 5 would be in Hambantota for one week to “conduct space tracking, satellite control and research tracking in the northwestern part of the Indian Ocean region through August and September.”
Sri Lanka formally handed over commercial activities at its main southern port to a Chinese company in 2017 on a 99-year lease after struggling to repay its debt.
China is one of Sri Lanka’s biggest lenders and has also funded airports, roads and railways, unnerving India.
Sri Lanka angered India in 2014 when it allowed a Chinese submarine and a warship to dock in Colombo.
BACK TO NORMAL? The move would be part of a gradual easing of curbs monitored by the CECC, which would retain the quarantine mandate if case numbers rise again The Cabinet yesterday approved a plan to next month reopen Taiwan’s borders to all visitors and lift the quarantine mandate for arrivals, provided the nation’s COVID-19 situation does not escalate. The changes are likely to take effect on Oct. 13 as part of a phased easing of border controls that is to start on Thursday next week when a negative polymerase chain reaction test result would no longer be needed, Cabinet spokesman Lo Ping-cheng (羅秉成) told a news conference. Arriving travelers would instead be given four rapid antigen home test kits, Lo said. The three-day quarantine requirement followed by four days of mandatory
The Chinese navy has the ability to blockade Taiwan, but doing so could prompt a coordinated response by the international community to intervene to resolve the crisis for Taiwan, US Vice Admiral Karl Thomas said. “Clearly if they do something that’s non-kinetic, which, you know, a blockade is less kinetic ... then that allows the international community to weigh in and to work together on how we’re going to solve that challenge,” the commander of the US Navy’s 7th Fleet told the Wall Street Journal in an interview published on Monday. While he could not predict whether China would launch a full-scale
‘NO SURRENDER’: A blockade or outlying island seizure would be an act of war, and China’s drills last month have emboldened Taipei in its response plans, an official said The Republic of China Army Command Headquarters has agreed to purchase 5,000 Kestrel close-range anti-armor missiles worth NT$400 million (US$12.63 million) from the Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology, according to the military’s latest arms purchase bid notice. The army asked the institute to complete the order within 13 months, a military source said on condition of anonymity. Kestrel missiles are designed to penetrate armored vehicles and are used in anti-surface warfare, as they feature optical sights and night vision, and can be operated in all weather conditions. The missile has a 400m range, or a 150m range when used for breaching brick
‘ABSURD’: UN Resolution 2758 expelled the Chiang Kai-Shek government without mentioning Taipei, something the Chinese minister did not acknowledge, Taipei said Taiwan yesterday criticized Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi (王毅) for “intentionally misinterpreting” a 1971 UN resolution to misrepresent Taiwan’s status to the global community. In his address on Saturday to the UN General Assembly, Wang cited Resolution 2758 as a basis for Beijing’s claim that Taiwan is part of China. He said that Beijing considers Taiwan an “inseparable part of China’s territory since ancient times.” “Only when China is completely reunified can there be enduring peace across the Taiwan Strait... Any move to obstruct China’s reunification is bound to be crushed by the wheels of history,” Wang said. General Assembly Resolution 2758