Former President – Mr. Maithripala Sirisena has said that the issue with regard to the Chinese vessel – Yuan Wang 5 was messed up due to the conduct of the officials of the Foreign Ministry, who had even acted without the knowledge of the Foreign Minister.
He said this while speaking in Parliament today (10).
On August 8, 2022, Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs had requested China to defer the port call of its research vessel – Yuan Wang 5, amid strong and repeated concerns raised by India.
Mr. Sirisena recapped the incidents saying that the vessel had sought permission on June 28 and the Foreign Ministry had granted permission on July 12. Accordingly, the vessel had departed from China on July 14, he added.
“What I learned is that the officials have done this even without the knowledge of the Foreign minister and messed it up,” he said.
“The Sri Lankan government has made this notice only after the vessel headed towards the country after 24 days at sea, with just 03 days ahead of the port call. It is also known that food supplies of over 2,000 crew members are to run out by the time they are to arrive at Hambantota. Therefore, there is a food related issue as well,” he added.
“The Foreign Ministry has verbally urged the Chinese Embassy to defer the ship’s arrival after August 15,” he further said.
The former President also noted that the Chinese built Pakistan warship – PNS Taimur is scheduled to make a port call at Colombo on Aug. 12.
Pointing out that both are Chinese built vessels, Mr. Sirisena questioned whether allowing one vessel while requesting to defer the another, wasn’t an act that undermined countries in the face of others.
Reminiscing on the strong friendship between China and Sri Lanka when he was the President, Mr. Sirisena noted that the Chinese President Xi Jinping had even donated South Asia’s largest kidney hospital to his home region, the Polonnaruwa district.
He also said that the foreign relations that he had strengthened as the President, had deteriorated in the last 3 years.
Mr. Sirisena emphasised that Sri Lanka will not be able to solve the economic, political and social crises without international support.
Noting that not managing international relations properly will be a downfall, he proposed to the government to formulate a fresh program to strengthen international relations and to maintain a non-allied foreign policy.