No intent to harm India’s security interests, says Lanka envoy on docking of Chinese ship : The Tribune India

No intent to harm India’s security interests, says Lanka envoy on docking of Chinese ship

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 19

Sri Lanka on Monday said the episode regarding the docking of a Chinese research ship at Hambantota Port is a lesson on the need for close cooperation and coordination with India.

“Definitely there was no intention of (undermining). India’s security interests are our own security interests… the President made this clear recently.. that understanding is there…. It’s a question of how we implement it… this is a process,” said Sri Lanka High Commissioner Milinda Moragoda.

“Approval for the docking of the Chinese ship was granted at a time when we were in a state of chaos and having granted it there was an issue in withdrawing it… the lesson we learnt is that we need to have very close cooperation and coordination with India,’’ he said while speaking at the Indian Women’s Press Corps. “We are also now planning to change the way these clearances are given. Earlier it was just an administrative clearance,” he added.

Sri Lanka had done a flip-flop on permitting a Chinese spy ship to dock at Hambantota. It first allowed the ship to proceed towards Hambantota and then reversed its position asking it not to come. Days later, Colombo made another u-turn and allowed the ship to dock. Analysts believe the ship, Yuan Wang 5’s tracking systems and surveillance equipment can scan India’s coastal defence facilities.

The envoy admitted that it is a challenge to balance relations with different countries but “India is the anchor for us for security. When it comes to security, India is the main provider. There is no dispute at all. We also recognise that this is a complex period … We have learned from this experience and we will correct ourselves.”

“Rajapaksa used to always say China is a very very close friend but India is our brother and sister…. Within a family u can have quarrels but finally it is your family,” he observed.

As lots of technologies are dual purpose, Sri Lanka needs to have a better understanding, said the envoy, adding that it was trying to take India’s help to develop a framework.

On India upbraiding Sri Lanka last week at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) for the “lack of measurable progress” in resolving the ethnic issue, the envoy said though one can argue about the nuances, the substance of India’s position was the same as earlier. However, he wanted Sri Lanka to be given space to work its way through this. Our society is very polarized. So we have to tread carefully,” he explained.

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