A Chinese ship with abilities to track satellites and intercontinental missiles docked at Sri Lanka's Hambantota port this morning amid snooping concerns expressed by India.
Harbour Master Captain Nirmal de Silva told NDTV that the Chinese ship, Wang Yang 5, arrived at the Sri Lankan port at around 8.30 am.
Sri Lanka, which had earlier asked China to postpone the visit of the high-tech ship amidst India's concern over the vessel's presence in its neighbourhood, cleared it for docking on Saturday.
New Delhi is concerned about the possibility of the ship's tracking systems attempting to snoop on Indian installations, it is learnt.
The ship was allowed to dock at the port on the condition that it keeps its Automatic Identification System (AIS) switched on while in Sri Lankan waters and is not allowed to carry out scientific research. Colombo said the security clearance was granted for the visit of the high-tech vessel for replenishment purposes between August 16 and 22.
"The security and cooperation in the neighbourhood are of utmost priority in handling the issue of the Chinese vessel Wang Yang 5," the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
"The government took into account the interests of all parties concerned, and in line with the principle of sovereign equality of states," the statement said.
Last week, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi had said that India will make the best judgement about its security interests and it takes into account the prevailing situation in the region, especially in border areas.
"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 had said.
Earlier, the Chinese Foreign Ministry had said that it was "completely unjustified for certain countries to cite the so-called "security concerns" to pressure Sri Lanka."
"We urge the relevant parties to see China's marine scientific research activities in a rational light and stop disrupting normal exchange and cooperation between China and Sri Lanka," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin had said.
The Hambantota port is run by China, which leased it for 99 years for $1.12 billion. Beijing remains Sri Lanka's biggest bilateral creditor, owning over 10 per cent of the island's foreign debt.