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After Sri Lanka imposed a one-year moratorium on all research vessels conducting studies in its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), causing friction with China, according to Sri Lankan media. This ban, effective January 3rd, 2024, also applies to Chinese research vessels, which have been increasingly active in the Indian Ocean in recent years.

The ban on Chinese ships in Sri Lanka’s EEZ has been interpreted by some as a victory for India, which has previously voiced concerns about such activities in the region. Sri Lanka reportedly informed India of the decision on December 31st, 2023.

This follows a request by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in July 2023, urging Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe to consider India’s strategic and security interests. Notably, this request likely influenced the denial of docking permission to the Chinese research vessel “Xiang Yang Hong 3” in December 2023.

While the full extent of China’s displeasure and the potential long-term consequences of the moratorium remain unclear, it underscores the complex geopolitical dynamics in the region. The ban raises questions about the impact on future China-Sri Lanka relations and potential shifts in the regional power balance.