China’s Research Vessel Xiang Yang Hong 3 to Make Port Call in Maldives, Not for Research
Chinese research vessel Xiang Yang Hong 3 is set to make a port call in the Maldives, but contrary to speculation, it will not be conducting any research in Maldivian waters, as confirmed by the Government of Maldives. This development comes in the midst of heightened attention in India, following Sri Lanka’s decision to impose a one-year moratorium on foreign research vessels visiting its ports, due to concerns raised by India over visits by a Chinese vessel.
Clearance for Port Call, Not Research
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Maldives revealed that the Government of China formally requested necessary clearances from the Maldives for the purpose of a port call, primarily for rotation of personnel and replenishment. It was unequivocally stated that the Chinese vessel will not be engaged in any research activities while in the waters of the Maldives. This statement was shared by Foreign Minister Moosa Zameer on social media.
Welcoming Vessels from Friendly Countries
The Ministry emphasized that the Maldives has always been open to vessels from friendly nations and has a longstanding tradition of hosting both civilian and military vessels for port calls with peaceful intentions. This not only strengthens the bilateral ties between the Maldives and its partner countries but also reflects the warm hospitality of the Maldivian people towards vessels from friendly nations. It was reiterated that international best practices and relevant maritime laws will be adhered to during the vessel’s visit.
Indian Authorities React
While Indian authorities have taken cognizance of the situation, no official comments have been provided thus far. However, reports have surfaced that online users from India faced difficulties in accessing the website of the Maldivian Foreign Ministry, prompting speculation. The Ministry is yet to respond to queries regarding this issue.
Tensions and Strategic Shifts
The impending visit of the Chinese vessel has added to the existing tensions between New Delhi and Male, as the Maldivian President Mohamed Muizzu, who assumed office in September 2023, has expressed dissatisfaction with the presence of Indian troops in the Maldives. Furthermore, President Muizzu has terminated a joint hydrographic survey exercise with India and has made a commitment to enhance strategic ties with China during his recent state visit to the Asian giant.
The arrival of the Chinese research vessel Xiang Yang Hong 3 in the Maldives has sparked significant interest, particularly in the context of regional geopolitical dynamics and shifting alliances. With the vessel’s imminent port call, the attention now turns to the implications it may have on the delicate balance of power in the Indian Ocean region.