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Chinese 'research vessel' to arrive in Male amid India-Maldives tensions

Sources within the Navy have expressed apprehension over the presence of the Chinese vessel, highlighting the potential ramifications of seabed mapping activities in the strategically significant Indian Ocean Region (IOR).

Nitin Kumar Edited By: Nitin Kumar @Niitz1 Male Updated on: February 22, 2024 10:26 IST
Image Source : SOCIAL MEDIA Research/Survey Vessel XIANG YANG HONG 03 sailing under the flag of China.

Against a backdrop of strained relations between India and the Maldives, a Chinese research vessel has made its way into the waters surrounding the island nation, with plans to dock in its capital, Male. The 4,300-ton Xiang Yang Hong 03, classified as a 'research' vessel, is tasked with mapping the floor of the Indian Ocean.

Objectives of the Chinese vessel

The Xiang Yang Hong 03, belonging to China's Third Institute of Oceanography, is on a mission involving seabed mapping and mineral exploration. Departing from Sanya in China over a month ago, the vessel is expected to dock in Male shortly, raising concerns amid India-Maldives tensions.

Mixed messages from the Maldives

While the Maldives has stated that the Chinese vessel will not conduct research within its waters, instead focusing on "rotation and replenishment," India remains vigilant. The vessel's zigzag movements between the Maldives and Sri Lanka have heightened concerns in New Delhi, reflecting broader anxieties over China's expanding influence in the Indian Ocean Region.

India's strategic concerns

India's apprehensions extend beyond the immediate vicinity of the Maldives, encompassing the broader strategic implications of the Chinese vessel's activities. As China seeks to bolster its presence in the Indian Ocean, New Delhi closely monitors developments, mindful of preserving its own strategic interests in the region.

Navigating geopolitical dynamics

The impending arrival of the Xiang Yang Hong 03 underscored the complex geopolitical dynamics at play in the Indian Ocean Region. With China's maritime ambitions intersecting with India's security concerns, the region becomes a focal point for strategic competition and diplomatic maneuvering.

Calls for diplomatic engagement

Amid escalating tensions, diplomatic channels are expected to be activated to address the implications of the Chinese vessel's presence. Dialogue and cooperation between India, the Maldives, and China will be crucial in managing tensions and maintaining stability in the region.

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