Maldivian government clarified on Tuesday that the Chinese research vessel, Xiang Yang Hong 3, en route to the Maldives, will not be engaging in any research activities within Maldivian waters. The announcement follows a diplomatic request from China seeking clearances for the vessel’s port call in Male’.
According to the statement from the Maldivian Foreign Ministry, China’s request for port clearance is intended for the rotation of personnel and replenishment purposes, with a clear assurance that research activities will not be conducted during the vessel’s stay.
Highlighting the Maldives’ historical tradition of welcoming vessels from friendly countries, the Foreign Ministry emphasized that such port calls contribute to strengthening bilateral ties and exemplify the warm hospitality extended by the Maldivian people. The government maintains its commitment to upholding international best practices and adhering to relevant international maritime laws in handling such cases.
The upcoming arrival of the Chinese research vessel in early February has stirred media reports and is expected to draw attention, particularly from New Delhi. Historically, neighboring countries, including India, have expressed concerns about the presence of such vessels near their shores, fearing potential military implications despite their civilian nature.
While the Xiang Yang Hong 3 is not a military ship, India, among others, has previously raised objections to the possible dual-use nature of Chinese research vessels. In 2022, a similar incident in Sri Lanka led to the suspension of permission for Chinese research vessels to dock in its ports for one year, following strong objections from India.
Notably, the announcement comes within a month of the Maldives terminating its agreement with India, allowing hydrographic surveys in Maldivian waters using Indian military vessels. The geopolitical implications of the upcoming port call are expected to be closely monitored, especially in the context of regional dynamics.