Sri Lanka has requested China to defer the arrival of its spy ship Yuan Wang 5 after India raised concerns over the “real purpose” of the voyage. Yuan Wang 5 is a dual-use spy vessel, employed for space and satellite tracking and with specific usage in intercontinental ballistic missile launches. It is a third-generation tracking ship of the Yuan Wang Series, which came into service on September 29, 2007, and was designed by China’s 708 Research Institute.

It is a highly sophisticated missile range instrumentation ship with top-of-the-line antennas and electronic equipment to support the launching and tracking of missiles and rockets.

The vessel in question is supposed to come to Hambantota Port on August 11 and stay there until August 17. Sri Lanka has received a request for fuel and other supplies during the stay.

As per the available intelligence, after this stay, the Yuan Wang 5 will move to the Indian Ocean for other research like space tracking and satellite operation monitoring.

In a letter accessed by CNN-News18, Sri Lankan authorities have sought deferment of the ship’s arrival “till further consultations”.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka avails itself of this opportunity to renew to the Embassy of People’s Republic of China in Colombo, the assurances of its highest consideration,” it added.

Sources in the Indian government have welcomed Sri Lanka’s move and said China should honour the sovereignty of other countries.

CNN-News18 had earlier reported that there was a strong possibility that the vessel could be equipped with high-tech eavesdropping equipment to peer deep into Indian territory.

Indian naval bases on the east coast and ISRO launch stations at Chandipur are all vulnerable in the presence of such a vessel, they added.

According to sources, China has timed this activity precisely to exploit Sri Lanka’s economic crisis to ensure Lankan ports become Chinese naval bases that can be used later by the PLA. The Chinese are embarrassing Lankans at this time to mainly spy on India, they added.