(August 08, 2022, Colombo, Sri Lanka) Sri Lanka-China Friendship Association (SLCFA) condemn the Indian intervention of dictating terms to Sri Lankan sovereignty and also believes that Sri Lanka should not bow down to pressurizes of any foreign country on matters of our sovereignty and much discussed nonaligned foreign policy. The SLCFA strongly believes that Sri Lanka has all the rights to decide what naval vessels can resupply at Sri Lanka’s ports and that no other country has the power to force us what ships Sri Lanka should allow docking in Sri Lankan ports. It is a fundamental right of Sri Lanka’s sovereignty and India or any other country should not impose pressure to Sri Lanka’s decision to entertain in her ports or to enter Sri Lanka’s territorial waters.
Sri Lankan government has asked China to defer the visit of Yuan Wang 5, a Chinese survey ship to the island after objections from India. Freedom of Navigation (FON) is a principle of “the UN convention on the Law of the Sea” for which India too has signed along with both Sri Lanka and China on December 10th 1982.
Foreign military ships using Sri Lankan ports for resupply is common. Seventy two naval vessels had docked in Sri Lankan ports in 2021 and it is not the first time that a Chinese research vessel arrived in a Sri Lankan port. China categorically states that it was exercising freedom of the high seas, and Chinese Foreign Ministry said that China “fully respects coastal countries’ jurisdiction over scientific research activities in waters under their jurisdiction.” China had already agreed to Sri Lanka’s conditions imposed on July 12th.
If Sri Lanka had decided, on its own, that Yuan Wang 5 must not be resupplied at one of its ports, it is the country exercising its sovereignty. On July 12, Sri Lanka allowed Yuan Wang 5 to come in and imposed certain restrictions on the ship. This was a sovereign decision. But the decision to defer the ship was done because of external interference. Sri Lanka should not be pressurized by any country or any hegemonic power to violate internationally accepted rules.
Ananda Goonatilleke, Attorney-at-Law
President, Sri Lanka-China Friendship Association (SLCFA)