Sri Lanka Denies Entry to Chinese Ship, Raises Indian Surveillance Concerns; Focus Shifts to Maldives

The intrusion of China into the Indian Ocean is becoming a cause for heightened concern in India. Amidst this, a Chinese surveillance vessel is advancing towards the Maldives. The vessel is expected to reach the port of Malé, the capital of the Maldives, although the exact arrival date remains undisclosed. Speculations suggest that it might arrive in the first week of February.

The Indian Navy is closely monitoring the movement of this vessel. According to an official from the Indian Navy, the clandestine Chinese ship, Xiang Yang Hong 03, entered the Indian Ocean through Indonesia’s Sunda Strait and is now progressing towards the Maldives. The decision to head towards the Maldives comes as Sri Lanka denied permission for it to dock at any of its ports.

The Chinese surveillance vessel Xiang Yang Hong 03 had previously lingered in the waters of Malé, Maldives, in 2019 and 2020. It has also been spotted in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea, raising concerns for India about potential espionage threats.

The map is symbolic.

Strained Relations Between India and Maldives Heighten Concerns for India

The increasing presence of a Chinese vessel reaching the Maldives adds to India’s worries during a time when relations between India and Maldives are deteriorating, while ties between China and Maldives are seemingly growing closer.

Maldives’ President, Muizzu, undertook a visit to China from January 8 to 12. Upon his return, he praised China, stating that China does not interfere in their internal matters. He emphasized that although their country is small, it does not grant anyone the license to threaten them.

Mohammed Muizzu, who took oath as the new President of Maldives on November 15, 2023, and is known for his pro-China stance, has strained relations between India and Maldives since his election.

During his electoral campaign, Muizzu advocated for “India out” rhetoric. After coming to power, he ordered the removal of Indian soldiers stationed in Maldives and announced the termination of the hydrographic survey agreement with India. Subsequently, two Maldivian ministers made contentious remarks against Prime Minister Narendra Modi regarding his visit to Lakshadweep. These developments have contributed to the growing tensions in the bilateral relations between India and Maldives.

After becoming President, Mohammad Muizzu went to China on his second foreign tour. Before this he had gone to Turkey.

Chinese Covert Research Ship Raises Strategic Concerns in Indian Ocean

China’s discreet utilization of its so-called research ships has been a source of growing apprehension, especially as these vessels are equipped with powerful military surveillance systems. The Chinese vessels, reaching ports in the Maldives and Sri Lanka, are known to navigate the maritime coasts of Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu.

Experts suggest that China has deployed this ship to Sri Lanka for espionage on India’s main naval bases and nuclear facilities. Chinese espionage vessels are equipped with high-tech eavesdropping equipment, enabling them to gather information discreetly, even reaching into the internal affairs of India. Positioned along the Sri Lankan ports, these vessels can collect data extending to India’s eastern naval bases, including the launch center in Chandipur and potentially intercept information on strategic missiles like Agni, including their performance and range.

India has been closely monitoring this espionage ship for over a month, as it entered the Indian Ocean from the Malacca Strait on September 23. Having departed from its homeport in Guangzhou on September 10, the vessel was last spotted in Singapore on September 14. The extended surveillance has raised concerns about potential threats to India’s strategic interests in the region.

The picture is of Yuan Wang 5. China has 7 such spy ships. With these he can monitor the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Ocean. These send information to the land based commanding centre.

China’s Covert Research Ships: Strategic Operations in Global Waters

China boasts several covert research ships, strategically operating in the Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian Oceans. Despite being labeled as research vessels, these ships are equipped with advanced military surveillance systems. These vessels play a crucial role in sending comprehensive information to Beijing’s land-based tracking stations.

According to a report from the U.S. Department of Defense, these ships are operated by China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) through the Strategic Support Force (SSF). The SSF operates at the theater command level, aiding the PLA in space, cyber, electronic, information, communication, and psychological warfare missions.

China’s espionage ships are formidable tracking vessels, particularly adept at monitoring satellite launches, rockets, and intercontinental ballistic missile launches. These ships initiate acoustic surveillance when countries like India conduct missile tests. They are equipped with high-tech eavesdropping equipment, enabling them to intercept communications up to 1,000 kilometers away.

The missile tracking ships feature an electronic system comprising radar and antennas. This system tracks incoming missiles within its range and transmits the information to the air defense system, providing advanced notice and enabling the interception of incoming threats before they reach the air defense system’s range. This capability significantly enhances the effectiveness of defense systems against potential missile attacks.

China Apprehensive of QUAD Nations' Maritime Presence in the Indian Ocean

China Apprehensive of QUAD Nations’ Maritime Presence in the Indian Ocean

China is apprehensive of the maritime presence of the QUAD nations, comprising India, the United States, Australia, and Japan. The QUAD alliance is perceived as a threat by China, prompting the country to intensify its maritime defense preparations. The Indo-Pacific region holds strategic significance for the QUAD, and China aims to establish its influence in this crucial area, viewing it as a vital theater for its maritime interests.

Niyati Rao

Niyati Rao is a seasoned writer and avid consumer who specializes in crafting informative and engaging articles and product reviews. With a passion for research and a knack for finding the best deals, Niyati enjoys helping readers make informed decisions about their purchases.