Yuan Wang 5, the Chinese research and Survey vessel, continues to proceed to Sri Lanka's port of Hambantota despite the authorities of the island country asked Beijing to defer the visit, local media reported.
On Tuesday, Sri Lankan Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that it has requested China to defer the visit of the Yuan Wang 5, News First reported.
However, on Tuesday the vessel increased its speed and reached a point some 600 nautical miles away from the southern Sri Lankan port of Hambantota.
It is now reported that the vessel abruptly reduced its speed to 5 knots late last night, changing direction towards the Andaman Islands.
However, again on Wednesday morning, the Yuan Wang 5 changed back to its original course.
The vessel that can travel at speed above any other standard vessel had reduced its speed to 4 Knots, reported News First.
Earlier, on Monday, in a statement, the Sri Lankan foreign ministry said 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.
The Foreign Ministry further stated it wishes to reaffirm the enduring friendship and excellent relations between Sri Lanka and China which remain on a solid foundation, as reiterated most recently by the two Foreign Ministers Ali Sabry and Wang Yi at a bilateral meeting in Phnom Penh on August 4.
Meanwhile, reacting to the media reports over the vessel, the Chinese foreign ministry said that Beijing "always exercises freedom of the high seas in accordance with law and fully respects coastal countries' jurisdiction over scientific research activities in waters under their jurisdiction."
China also urged "relevant parties" to see its marine scientific research activities in a rational light and stop disrupting normal exchange and cooperation between China and Sri Lanka.
"It is completely unjustified for certain countries to cite the so-called "security concerns" to pressure Sri Lanka," it said.
Designated as a research and survey vessel, Yuan Wang 5 was built in 2007 and has a carrying capacity of 11,000 tonnes.
During this significant visit to the key Sri Lankan port, it could conduct satellite research in the northwestern 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. (ANI)