Colombo: Sri Lanka’s top monk, the General Secretary of Amarapura Maha Sangha Sabha, Pallekande Rathanasara Thero has condemned the controversial arrival of a Chinese ship on August 10 at the Hambantota port.

“At the present time when Sri Lanka is looking up to India, the Western world nations and international monetary institutions for humanitarian assistance and a bailout from the current acute economic crisis, particularly IMF, the arrival of the ship is likely to destabilize the ongoing efforts to secure such assistance, thus making Sri Lanka’s situation still worse”, NewsWire quoting the monk as saying.

Considering the tense situation in some parts of the world and Sri Lanka’s economic crisis, the arrival of the warship is unwarranted and unacceptable, he said.

Rathanasara Thero described the controversial arrival of the ship as an uncalled action which is detrimental for the island country’s national and strategic interests in current times.

“The Mahasangas cannot remain silent observers because the country is already going through the worst ever economic crisis,” the monk stated, adding that this move will only make the situation in the country irreversibly worse, NewsWire reported.

The Chinese vessel Yuan Wang 5 was scheduled to dock at Chinese-leased Hambantota Port on August 11 for refuelling and leave on August 17.

Designated as a research stroke survey vessel, Yuan Wang 5 was built in 2007 and has a carrying capacity of 11,000 tonnes. The survey vessel departed from Jiangyin, China on July 13 and is currently sailing close to Taiwan where China is conducting live-fire drills as an aggressive posture against Taipei for allowing US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to visit the self-ruled island.

During this significant visit to the key Sri Lankan port, it could conduct satellite research in the north-western part of the Indian Ocean region, prompting security concerns for India.

Hambantota Port, located around 250 km from Colombo was built with high-interest Chinese loans. The Sri Lankan government struggled to repay the debt they had taken from China following which the port was handed over to the Chinese on a 99-year lease.

Notably, India had expressed its security concerns over the docking of the vessel at Hambantota as it was shown as a research vessel while the spy ship can map the ocean bed which is critical to anti-submarine operations of the Chinese Navy.

Since the beginning of 2022, Sri Lanka has experienced an escalating economic crisis and the government has defaulted on its foreign loans. The United Nations warned that 5.7 million people require immediate humanitarian assistance.

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