The government will not be having talks with India regarding the presence of Chinese attack submarines in Sri Lankan waters, Minister of Petroleum Industries Anura Priyadharshana Yapa said.
Chinese submarines are both diesel and nuclear-powered and some can fire ballistic missiles. Whilst one docked in the Colombo Port on 15 September, the other is in Palk Straits waiting to dock at the Colombo Port.
This expansion of Chinese presence in Sri Lanka, including military ties, has vexed the Indian authoritieswho have repeatedly expressed, at the highest levels, their strong reservations and displeasure about the turn of events.
He denied that the urgent summoning and visits of Sri Lankan military top brass, including Secretary to the Ministry of Defence and Urban Development, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa to India on the orders of New Delhi officials were anything but routine.
The Minister said the Chinese submarines were not in Sri Lankan waters for purposes of waging war or aiding war efforts.
He said these visits of the Sri Lankan defence officials to India were standard routine visits.
“India is not worried. As in the past, even today we have a very healthy relationship with India,” Yapa explained.
Such reassurances by the government have not however, managed to assuage India as can been gleaned from India’s growing concern and reactions to the matter.
Not unusual says china
China has said that the docking of its submarines in Sri Lanka was common practice and not unusual, following concerns voiced in Indian strategic circles over two recent visits of People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) submarines.
The Defence Ministry in Beijing said on Monday that it is an international common practice…
…for Navy submarine(s) to stop for refuelling and crew refreshment at an overseas port,” the international media reports quoted an official as saying.
The official said Chinese submarines docked “during its escort missions in the Gulf of Aden” and off Somalia, where the PLAN is engaged in anti-piracy escort missions. The reports said that the two visits by Chinese submarines – the first in mid-September coinciding with the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to India, and the second on Friday – had worried India. It quoted the Defence Ministry as saying the visits were nothing unusual “despite concerns raised by India.”
On Friday, the submarine Changzheng-2 and warship Chang Xing Dao arrived at Colombo. In mid-September, another submarine stopped in Sri Lanka, which was nuclear-powered and did not surface according to reports.
The Sri Lankan Navy also said the visit was not unusual, pointing out that 230 warships had called on Colombo since 2010. Sources told India Today that Chinese officials conveyed to their Indian counterparts that the submarine visits were mainly re-fuelling stops for anti-piracy escort missions in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden. But some Indian officials and analysts have not entirely accepted that explanation, pointing that submarines, to begin with, had little role to play in such missions. (India Today)