India ensures Chinese spy ship does not dock at Sri Lanka – But for how long?

India’s silent but effective strong-arm diplomacy keeps China at bay - for now

India’s silent but effective strong-arm diplomacy keeps China at bay - for now
India’s silent but effective strong-arm diplomacy keeps China at bay - for now
  • Narendra Modi’s silent diplomacy arm twisting of Sri Lanka
  • Ranil Wickramasinghe’s visit to India was on hold till he relented
  • “Rs.25000 crores of humanitarian help to Sri Lanka was at the cost of Indian taxpayers”

India’s safe diplomacy

The Narendra Modi dispensation is aware that China will wag its tail and send its spy ship a year later, knowing this India played safe diplomacy. Modi succeeded in it. A big win for Modi. At the same time, India unleashed a nine points multi-pronged strategy to protest to Sri Lanka against the Chinese spy ship to be berthed in Hambantota.

Modi arm twisting Sri Lanka with silent diplomacy. That is how Ranil relented, “If you do not stop spy ship then face……” was the threat from India.

India might have temporarily succeeded in convincing Sri Lanka to stop the arrival of a spying ship near Indian waters, but India is engaged in evolving long-term strategies to counter China’s outreach to snoop on Southern Indian ports and security installations.

  1. Should Sri Lanka allow the Chinese spy ship tantamounts to backstabbing and blackmailing India? Sri Lankan political leadership was under pressure to deny permission to spy ship.
  2. Should Sri Lanka after having received Rs.25000 crores of Indian assistance to overcome the economic crisis, help China spy ship to snoop on India?
  3. Should India reconsider the state visit of Sri Lankan president Ranil Wickremesinghe to New Delhi till such time the spy ship permission was denied?
  4. Should India fuel petrol supplied at a free cost to Colombo for its citizens be misused to refuel a Chinese spy ship?
  5. Should India reconsider its decision to stand a guarantee at International Monetary Fund to help Sri Lanka?
  6. Should not New Delhi take a strong view of a possible attempt by China to encourage secession tendency to divide India by encouraging southern states?
  7. A 360-degree of deliberations were held at various levels of the New Delhi decision-making bodies.
  8. Track two diplomacy was activated to ensure that pressure on Sri Lanka to reject China’s spy ship.
  9. Top-level Indian security experts’ unconfirmed reports suggest they made a quiet visit to Colombo to explain such threats to the security of India.

How Modi formulated the strategy, and who all assisted him?

After Foreign Minister Dr. S Jaishankar and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval briefed Narendra Modi, a political decision was taken by Prime Minister to adopt a nine-pronged strategy. Modi consulted the Cabinet Committee on Security consisting of Amit Shah, Rajnath Singh, Dr. Jaishankar, and Nirmala Sitharaman. All in a hush-hush manner without media attention. Silent diplomacy was the approach.

How Intelligence inputs were ready?

The Naval Intelligence of the Indian Army helped a great deal to assess the aerial reach of the Chinese spy ship is more than 750 km, which would bring the nuclear plants at Kalpakkam, Koodankulam, Kochi port, and Vizag port within snooping distance.

As many as six ports across the states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh will come under tracking reach of the vessel if it docks at Hambantota. The ship can also gather information about vital installations in southern India.

Why are DMK, CPM, and YSR state governments not serious?

It may be mentioned why elected representatives from Tamil Nadu or Andhra Pradesh use the ongoing monsoon session of parliament to echo their state government’s apprehensions about the spy ship of China snooping into their territory. Why did DMK, CPM, YSR, and Congress fail to bring a calling attention motion on this subject in both Houses? Fringe issues were highlighted to stall the proceedings of the session. The Modi government was not cornered by the opposition, said a senior diplomat.

Why do southern parties did not raise a spy ship issue in Parliament?

Few parties from Tamil Nadu like DMK, and VCK attended an all-party meeting convened by the Centre to address the Sri Lanka crisis in July, in Delhi.

Why DMK and VCK MPs are silent?

Addressing the floor leaders of all political parties in both the Houses of Parliament in the meeting, External Affairs Minister (EAM) S Jaishankar noted that since the matter pertains to a very close neighbour, ‘we naturally worry about consequences, spillover.’ None of the MPs from Tamil Nadu could counter the Centre with facts and figures nor reflected the Tamil Nadu government inputs. Even the Foreign Minister spoke frankly at the all-party meeting. that “the situation is unprecedented and India is worried about it. But drawing comparisons is uninformed,” said. Dr. S Jaishankar Indian Foreign Minister. Being a Tamilian Dr. Jaishankar understood the complications of the economic crisis and added to it the spy ship of China to be berthed at Hambantota. Jaishanker served in Colombo at Indian High Commission and hence he is in the knowledge of ground zero realities.

In September Ranil Wickramasinghe may visit India

Indications are that the Indian government might agree state visit of Ranil Wickramasinghe and his delegation to New Delhi by mid of September.

Serious threats if the spy ship was permitted and its international ramifications after Nancy Pelosi’s visit

Senior diplomats in South Block in New Delhi which houses the Foreign Office expressed a few points on the global expansionist attitude of China. Like Taiwan and also in Hambantota port.

The Yuan Wang 5 was built in 2007 and has a carrying capacity of 11,000 tonnes. It is designated as a research stroke survey vessel. The survey ship left Jiangyin, China on July 13 and is currently travelling close to Taiwan, where China is conducting live-fire exercises as a provocative response to Taipei for allowing US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to visit the autonomous island.

The ship is currently in the East China Sea between South Japan and northeast Korea, according to the Marine Traffic website.

But to the intense pressure from New Delhi, the Chinese government has been urged to postpone its space-satellite tracker ship Yuan Wang 5’s arrival at the Hambantota port “until more negotiations” have taken place between the two nations. The spy ship was expected to refuel on August 11 at the Hambantota port that China has leased and depart on August 17. What a danger if the spy ship was berthed and collected sky and naval intelligence of Southern Indian states.

India has voiced security concerns over the ship’s docking in Hambantota since it appeared to be a research vessel, although the spy ship could map the ocean floor, which is essential for Chinese Navy anti-submarine operations. It is believed that the Chinese ambassador to Sri Lanka used his influence to convince the Sri Lankan administration that denying the vessel permission would harm bilateral relations.

1. Text in Blue points to additional data on the topic.
2. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.

PGurus is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel and stay updated with all the latest news and views

For all the latest updates, download PGurus App.

R Rajagopalan is a veteran journalist. He reported Parliament proceedings for Dinamani and Vaartha. Since 1980. A well known face in English TV debates. He Widely traveled with Presidents and Prime Ministers.
R Rajagopalan


  1. Unless Sri Lanka wants to sell itself & become a colony of China, till then it is in its interest to be close with India. Sri Lanka has to learn to live within its resources & stop dreaming to become Heaven when its feet are anchored in financial mess.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here