Despite pressure from Beijing, Sri Lanka is continuing to defer the arrival of controversial Chinese vessel 'Yuang Wang' 5 to its southern port run by China.
On Saturday, following concerns raised by India, Sri Lanka urged China to indefinitely delay the entry for the tracking and survey vessel to the south Indian Ocean island nation.
In a letter written to the Chinese Embassy in Colombo, Sri Lanka's Foreign Ministry said: "The Ministry wishes to request that the arrival date of the vessel Yuan Wang 5 in Hambantota to be deferred until further consultation are made on this matter."
On Monday, the Foreign Ministry stated: "In light of the need for further consultations, the Ministry has communicated to the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in Colombo to defer the visit of the said vessel to the Hambantota port."
It said that diplomatic clearance for the Chinese vessel to make a port call at the Hambantota August 11-17 for replenishment purposes was conveyed by the Ministry to the Chinese Embassy on July 12.
However, the Foreign Ministry also reaffirmed the enduring friendship and excellent relations between Sri Lanka and China and referred to Sri Lanka's firm commitment to the one-China policy which has been a consistent principle in the country's foreign policy.
Beijing raised strong protest against the Indian move.
China's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Wang Wenbin told reporters on Monday that it "is completely unjustified for certain countries to cite the so-called 'security concerns' to pressure Sri Lanka".
"We urge the relevant parties to see China's marine scientific research activities in a rational light and stop disrupting normal exchange and cooperation between China and Sri Lanka," Wang, who didn't mention the name of India, stated.
"Sri Lanka is a sovereign country. It has the right to develop relations with other countries based on its development interests. To have normal cooperation is the independent choice made by our two countries. It serves the shared interests of both sides and does not target any third party."
Soon after Sri Lanka announced that the Chinese ship has been asked not to enter its port, Chinese diplomats had rushed to meet President Ranil Wickremesinghe.
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