‘Our research ship didn’t break any law’: China
China on Friday said it had evidence to prove that one of its top research ships, expelled by the Indian navy for operating in Indian waters illegally recently, was actually conducting experiments in international waters.
The Chinese foreign ministry said the fact that the ship Shiyan-1 or Experiment-1 was working in international waters was supported by operational logbooks and GPS tracking records.
The ship, the foreign ministry said, only sailed through Indian waters, basically saying it didn’t conduct any experiment in those waters.
In a statement to Hindustan Times, the foreign ministry asked India not to disturb normal and lawful maritime activities.
Earlier this week, navy chief Admiral Karambir Singh said that the Chinese research vessel was “…recently driven away from Indian waters near the Andaman and Nicobar Islands as it did not have permission to operate there”.
Reports said that an Indian navy maritime surveillance aircraft spotted the Chinese ship inside the islands’ exclusive economic zone (EEZ) – an area extending 200 nautical miles off its coastline, according to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea – and a warship was dispatched to drive it away.
The incident involved the Shiyan-1: It is a research vessel and is jointly built by the Institute of Acoustics, the South China Sea Institute of Oceanology, and the Shenyang Institute of Automation of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, China’s top scientific research institution.
The detailed foreign ministry statement – the Chinese version was shared with HT -- denied the vessel had broken any law.
“China has taken note of the remarks made by the Indian navy chief of staff on the Indian navy’s ‘expulsion’ of the Chinese research vessel “Experiment-1” in September this year.
“It has been verified that the research vessel “Experiment-1” was conducting acoustic propagation experiments and hydrologic environment measurements on the high seas of the Indian Ocean. It did not conduct any operations in the Indian EEZ during the whole process, and only sailed through the Indian EEZ on the way to and from the experimental area,” the statement added.
The statement said that throughout the ship’s voyage, the Indian navy aircraft followed it “…with shouts, and the crew also replied in accordance with international practice”.
“These facts are supported by operational plans, logbooks, and GPS tracks. Experiment-1’s scientific activities are in full compliance with the relevant provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea,” the statement added.
“China has always exercised the freedom of scientific research on the high seas in accordance with the law and fully respects the jurisdiction of relevant coastal states over their scientific research activities in the waters under their jurisdiction.”
“The Chinese side hopes relevant parties take a correct view of China’s marine scientific research activities and avoid disturbing normal and lawful maritime activities,” the statement added.
The 3,000-tonne Shiyan-1 is capable of carrying up to 45 scientists and is fitted with more than a dozen laboratories, the CAS says.
Interestingly, a 2018 November report by the China Maritime Studies Institute of the US Naval War College named Shiyan-1 as one of the research ships, which is part of China’s rapidly expanding flotilla of marine scientific research vessels working in international waters.
“China’s distant-ocean survey activities may be a leading indicator of China’s evolving naval strategy. They portend a future in which PLAN warships and submarines routinely operate on all the world’s great oceans,” the US navy report said.
It added: “This is true not just because Chinese research ships are laying the scientific foundation for naval operations in new areas. They are also preparing for future activities to exploit seabed resources, which the Chinese Navy will be asked to protect. Indeed, international maritime space constitutes one of the new frontiers in Chinese national security thinking”.
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