Maldives rules out Research by Chinese Vessel in its Waters

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What’s in Today’s Article?

  • Background
  • About the Chinese Vessel Xiang Yang Hong 03
  • Deteriorating Ties between India & Maldives
  • Growing Chinese Presence in the Indian Ocean


  • As per the foreign ministry of the Maldives Government, diplomatic request was made by the Chinese government for the necessary clearances to make a port call, for rotation of personnel and replenishment.
  • The ministry said that the Chinese research vessel Xiang Yang Hong 03 will not be carrying out research in Maldivian waters, but will arrive for a port call.
  • Reports of Chinese vessel heading to Maldives have drawn considerable attention in India.
    • This was significant especially in the wake of Sri Lanka announcing a one-year moratorium on foreign research vessels calling at the island’s ports.
      • This was after India voiced concerns over visits by a Chinese vessel.
    • In October 2023, the Chinese research vessel Shiyan 6 had docked at the port of Colombo for replenishment and to undertake joint military scientific research in Sri Lanka’s EEZ.
  • The Ministry said 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.

The Chinese Vessel Xiang Yang Hong 03

  • The research vessel Xiang Yang Hong 03is expected to arrive in Malé on 8 February, following a planned exploration of the southern Indian Ocean from January to May 2024.
  • The arrival of Xiang Yang Hong 03, which marine traffic portals describe as a research or survey vessel, is expected early next month.
  • The vessel had earlier called at Sri Lankan ports, but did not obtain clearance for a visit early this year.

Deteriorating Ties between India & Maldives

  • The visit of the Chinese vessel to the Maldives is the latest source of tension for India, during a challenging phase of its ties with the Maldives.
  • Maldivian President Mohamed Muizzu, who was elected to office in September 2023, has demanded that Indian troops be withdrawn from the Maldives.
  • He did not renew a joint hydrographic survey exercise with India.
  • During his recent state visit to China, Mr. Muizzu also pledged to elevate strategic ties with the Chinese.
    • Besides holding bilateral talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Muizzu’s China visit was marked by signing 20 agreements, an aid of $130 million to Maldives.
  • Despite sustained pressure from the Indian government, Mohamed Muizzu granted permission on 3 January for Chinese research vessels to dock in the Maldives.
    • India had previously expressed objections to the Sri Lankan and Maldivian governments regarding the docking of the Xiang Yang Hong 03.

Growing Chinese Presence in the Indian Ocean

  • In April 2023, a representative from the Indian Navy briefed the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence, revealing that China had experienced a significant naval expansion over just a decade.
  • Importantly, they noted that China's naval fleet had grown from 250 to over 350 ships, solidifying its position as the world's largest navy.
  • The representative highlighted further concerns about the nature of the data generated by Chinese research activities in international waters.
  • While regulations permit research in these waters, the representative pointed out that the data collected often has both civilian and military applications.

Q1) What is the Indian Ocean Rim Association?

The Indian Ocean Rim Association, formerly known as the Indian Ocean Rim Initiative and the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation, is an international organisation consisting of 23 states bordering the Indian Ocean.

Q2) What is the meaning of an Archipelago?

The word “archipelago” comes from the medieval Italian word archi, meaning chief or principal, and the Greek word pelagus, meaning gulf, pool, or pond. It is a group of large islands. 

Source: Maldives rules out research by Chinese vessel in its waters | Quint