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Indian media hyping Chinese research ship docking in Sri Lanka sensational claim: Experts

BEIJING, Oct 27 (APP): Analysts have condemned the politicizing of China’s legal scientific activity in the Indian Ocean after some Indian media made sensational claims about an oceangoing geophysical research ship from China that docked at a port in Sri Lanka, adding that the claims merely serve India’s regional strategy.

The oceangoing geophysical research ship Shiyan 6 reportedly docked at the port of Colombo in Sri Lanka on Wednesday, and will stay there until Saturday.

Departing from Guangzhou in September, the research expedition team made up of scientists and experts from 13 institutes will conduct some 28 offshore research over 80 days.

The expedition is focused on “coupling relationship between the dynamic processes, material circulation, and biogeography in the tropical eastern Indian Ocean,” the report said.

However, a report from Hindustan Times asserted that it is a dual purpose vessel and said it was “not only for maritime survey but also seabed survey for future operations of the Chinese Navy in the Indian Ocean.” It also claimed that the ship docked at the port despite India’s objections.

The oceangoing geophysical research ship from China is conducting scientific research in the Indian Ocean, but some Indian media deliberately linked it with military activities so as to smear and demonize China’s international image to serve its foreign policy of being tough on China, Qian Feng, director of the research department at the National Strategy Institute at Tsinghua University, told the Global Times.

Hyping the normal replenishment of a research ship will contribute to damaging the political mutual trust between the two countries, which is already lacking, Qian noted, urging India to make practical efforts to bring bilateral ties onto a positive path.

Chen Xiangmiao, director of the world navy research center at the National Institute for South China Sea Studies, told the Global Times that the activities of Shiyan 6 in the Indian Ocean conform to international law and also the laws of Sir Lanka, adding that India’s objections come from nowhere.

Past experiences have shown that whenever Chinese ships enter the Indian Ocean, whether they are merchant ships or fishing ships, due to its biased perception of China, India will treat them as a threat to the region, making sensational claims against China based on non-existent facts.

Asked why the research ship was going on an expedition to the Indian Ocean, the chief scientist said, “The Indian Ocean plays an important role in regional and global climate change, water and energy exchange, especially through monsoons carrying a large amount of water vapor, which has a significant impact on southern China and the Yangtze River Basin. However, the Indian Ocean is one of the oceans that lacks on-site observation.”

This research in the eastern Indian Ocean aims to further explore the different ocean dynamic processes and material transport in the north and south hemispheres of the tropical eastern Indian Ocean ridge area, as well as their regional climate effects. This serves to enhance the country’s marine disaster prevention, reduction, and sustainable development capabilities along important trade routes, the scientist noted.

Previous reports said that the research ship “Shiyan 6” was added to China’s fleet of marine research vessels in Guangzhou, capital of South China’s Guangdong Province in 2020. It is the country’s first scientific research vessel focused on geophysical exploration.

Qian pointed out that the overreaction from India comes down to pointing fingers at the internal affairs of Sri Lanka. We’ve seen that Sir Lanka is a country that has insisted on an independent foreign policy, and has suffered repeated interventions from India, he added.

Despite this external pressure, Sri Lanka welcomes the visit by the oceangoing geophysical research ship, reflecting the friendly relations between the two countries, and China appreciates Sri Lanka’s insistence on its independent foreign policy, Qian noted.

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