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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 11/9/22

India prohibits Chinese research vessel from entering economic zone

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The Indian Navy will not allow the Yuan Wang-6 to enter the country's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) that extends up to 200 nautical miles into the sea, Indian Defense News reported Monday.

Though it is a known fact that the Yuan Wang-6 is a spy ship of the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), sent to the Indian Ocean region to track India's missile tests from the APJ Abdul Kalam Island off the Odisha coast, it is officially registered as a research and survey vessel, it said.

While foreign vessels, including warships, can freely sail through the EEZ, Indian law forbids any survey, research or exploration there by a foreign nation without permission.

In 2019, the Indian Navy forced the Chinese research vessel Shi Yan 1 out of India's EEZ after it was found lurking near Port Blair.

The Shi Yan 1 is also considered a PLAN spy ship masquerading as a research vessel. That move by the Indian Navy had led to a diplomatic row with China but India had put her foot down.

According to Indian sources, the Indian Navy will do the same this time around if the Yuan Wang-6 attempts to enter India's EEZ. The destination of this vessel is not marked to any port but to 'open sea' and that is where she will have to remain, a senior official said.

"We are constantly monitoring her every movement. Our surface and sub-surface assets are tracking the Yuan Wang-6. So are our Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and long-range maritime surveillance aircraft. In fact, we are also in a position to find out what this ship is tracking. Though we can't do anything till she is in the open seas, action can be taken once she attempts to enter our EEZ. Had she been a normal PLAN warship, we could have done nothing due to the international right to passage laws.

"However, a foreign survey and research vessel can't be allowed to operate in our EEZ. She won't be able to get close to our coastline. We know that Yuan Wang-6 has powerful equipment on board that can track from hundreds of nautical miles away, but there is nothing anybody can do so long as she is in international waters," the official said.

India's Territorial Waters extend to 12 nautical miles from the nearest low-tide mark on shore.

"The only problem is if the Chinese vessel receives permission from any one of our maritime neighbors to enter their territorial waters. We share our maritime boundary with Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Near these countries, we can't enforce our EEZ laws as the sea is contiguous. That is why we have International Maritime Boundary Lines to demarcate territory. Now, if Bangladesh allows the Yuan Wang-6 to dock at Chittagong or Sri Lanka grants permission to her at Hambantota Port, she will be lying extremely close to our coastline and tracking everything," Indian Defense News quoted another official as saying.

The Global Times of China

The Indian Navy is reportedly planning to stop China's Yuan Wang 6, a research and survey vessel, from entering the country's Exclusive Economic Zone, claiming that the vessel is a "spy ship" sent to the Indian Ocean region to track India's missile tests. The move is seen by experts as hindering the rebuilding of mutual trust after years of standoff in the countries' border regions, the Global Times of China said Monday.

Some Indian media reports over the weekend claimed that China's Yuan Wang 6 entered the Indian Ocean region on Friday via the Lombok Straits, and was out to monitor India's scheduled ballistic missile launches off the coast of APJ Kalam Island this month.

As China's third-generation space-tracking ship, Yuan Wang 6 has taken part in 73 maritime monitoring and control missions, including China's Shenzhou manned spaceship missions, according to the Xinhua News Agency.

"The move reflects the Indian military's vigilance and lack of confidence in dealing with China. It is clear to all that Yuan Wang 6 is not a military vessel, and its passing harmlessly through the zone is totally normal and legitimate," Qian Feng, director of the research department at the National Strategy Institute at Tsinghua University, told the Global Times on Monday.

India has been wary of China "expanding its influence" in the Indian Ocean over the years and has tried every possible means to prevent it, Qian said, adding that such a long-term attitude is not conducive to the improvement of ties or the restoration of trust between the two largest neighbors in Asia.

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Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
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