Govt says Chinese vessel will not conduct any research in Maldives

Chinese research vessel Xiang Yang Hong 3. (Photo/Marine Traffic)

The Chinese research vessel headed to the Maldives will not be conducting any research while in the Maldivian waters, according to the Maldivian government.

In a statement on Tuesday, the Maldivian Foreign Ministry said that China had made a diplomatic request for the necessary clearances for the Chinese research vessel Xiang Yang Hong 3 to make a port call in Male’.

According to the Foreign Ministry, China requested clearance for the port call for rotation of personnel and replenishment.

“The vessel would not be conducting any research while in the Maldivian waters,” reads the statement.

The Foreign Ministry said that the Maldives has always been a welcoming destination for vessels of friendly countries, and continues to host both civilian and military vessels making port calls for peaceful purposes.

“Such port calls not only enhance bilateral ties between the Maldives and its partner countries, but also demonstrate the centuries old tradition of the Maldivian people welcoming vessels from friendly countries,” said the Foreign Ministry.

The Foreign Ministry said that the Maldives continues to uphold international best practices, and relevant international maritime law on all such cases.

The statement follows media reports regarding the vessel, which is expected to arrive in the Maldives in early February.

The Maldives National Defense Force (MNDF) has not responded to requests for a comment.

The Chinese research vessel is likely to raise concern in New Delhi, which has previously viewed the presence of such vessels close to its shores as problematic.

While such vessels are not military ships, some countries, including India, worry about the military use of their research.

In 2022, a Chinese research vessel attempted to make a port call in Sri Lanka to conduct deep water explorations. But following strong objections from India, Colombo suspended permission for such vessels to dock on its ports for one year.

The upcoming port call by Xiang Yang Hong 3 comes a month after Maldives dropped its agreement with India, which allowed for hydrographic surveys in the Maldivian waters using Indian military vessels.