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Chinese research vessel returns to Maldives

The vessel was observed docked at the Thilafushi industrial island’s harbour on Thursday morning, although the specific reason for its return remains undisclosed by the government….reports Asian Lite News

Chinese marine research vessel Xiang Yang Hong 3 has returned in Maldivian waters, marking its second visit to the archipelago nation within two months after Pro-China Maldives President Mohamed Muizzu’s ruling People’s National Congress (PNC) has won the Parliamentary elections, as reported by Adhadhu news on Friday.

It is pertinent to note that Defense Minister Ghassan Maumoon last month told the Maldivian Parliament that the Chinese vessel would not conduct any research despite sailing inside and near Maldivian waters.

“There was no permission given to conduct any research in the Maldives territory. After docking in Male’ and buying food, they did a crew change. People who came on an airplane went onboard the boat and those on the boat left via the airplane. That was the permission that was given,” , Adhadhu quoted Ghassan as saying on March 25.

The vessel was observed docked at the Thilafushi industrial island’s harbour on Thursday morning, although the specific reason for its return remains undisclosed by the government. However, it’s worth noting that the government had previously confirmed permission for the ship to dock during its initial visit.

Xiang Yang Hong 3 initially arrived on February 22 after spending approximately a month near the boundary of the Maldives’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Following a brief stay of about six days, the ship returned to the EEZ boundary.

Its current reappearance suggests continued activity within or near Maldivian territory since January, with the vessel having skirted the EEZ during its recent movements.

In February, the Foreign Ministry stated that the Chinese vessel’s visit was for crew rotation purposes, emphasizing that no research activities would be conducted while in Maldivian waters. Defense Minister Ghassan Maumoon reiterated this stance in March, confirming that permission had only been granted for crew changes and replenishment, without authorization for research activities.

According to China’s State Oceanic Administration (SOA), Xiang Yang Hong 3 is hailed as the most advanced research vessel manufactured in the country, boasting capabilities for various marine research tasks. Its endurance of 15,000 nautical miles enables extended nonstop operations, while features such as DP-1 dynamic positioning ensure stability in adverse conditions.

The vessel is equipped with cutting-edge research apparatus, facilitating efficient data collection and analysis. While some equipment is sourced internationally, much of it is proudly manufactured in China.

As the Xiang Yang Hong 3 returns to Maldivian waters, questions persist regarding the nature of its activities and the extent of its involvement in marine research within the region, Adhadhu reported.

Muizzu’s ruling People’s National Congress (PNC) won 60 seats in the parliamentary elections held on Sunday, Maldives-based Sun Online reported.

Over 200,000 people voted in the parliamentary elections, in which 326 candidates were in the fray for 93 seats in the next parliamentary assembly, including six new seats. Maldives ruling party’s candidates contested 90 seats. (ANI)

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