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Chinese ship set to reach Maldives amid India-Maldives diplomatic tensions | India News

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NEW DELHI: NEW DELHI: As tensions between India and Maldives continue to rise, a Chinese research ship Xiang Yang Hong 03 is scheduled to reach Maldives, according to global ship-tracking data. This comes just three months after a similar vessel’s presence in the Indian Ocean raised security concerns in India.
The ship departed from its southeastern home port of Xiamen over a month ago, spending more than three weeks surveying waters just outside the exclusive economic zones of India, the Maldives and Sri Lanka, as per ship-tracking data.This follows remarks from a US think tank in January, suggesting that China’s navy could utilize insights gained from such missions for the deployment of naval forces. Beijing dismissed this assertion, labeling it as part of a fabricated image-smearing “China threat” narrative.
China’s foreign ministry said that the vessel’s research serves “exclusively” peaceful purposes for scientific understanding.
India has consistently expressed concern about the presence of China’s research vessels in the Indian Ocean. Indian security officials have noted that these vessels are “dual-use,” meaning the data they collect can have both civilian and military applications.
Xiang Yang Hong 03 has previously visited the Indian Ocean on multiple occasions, including passing through the Sunda Strait in Indonesia in 2021, raising alarms among Indonesian authorities due to instances where the tracking system was switched off. Chinese research vessels have also made stops in nearby Sri Lanka, with the military vessel Yuan Wang 5, capable of tracking rocket and missile launches, causing concern in 2022 by arriving in Colombo.
The last occurrence of a Chinese research vessel docking in Sri Lanka was in October 2023. However, in January, Sri Lanka imposed a year-long moratorium on foreign research ships, effectively denying China a port of call.
Xiang Yang Hong 03’s impending arrival follows a January visit by Maldivian President Mohamed Muizzu to China, resulting in an upgrade in ties with Beijing offering 920 million yuan ($128 million) in “free aid.” The Maldives has clarified that the vessel will not conduct research in its waters, stopping only for personnel rotation and replenishment of supplies.
(With agency inputs)

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