The China Sri Lanka Joint Centre for Education and Research (CSL-CER) of the University of Ruhuna has said that it has so far not reached any agreement with the Chinese research vessel Shi Yan Six—which has made a request to arrive in Lankan waters but is yet to receive government clearance—on any matter.
Speaking to The Daily Morning on Thursday, CSL-CER Co-Director Prof. Disna Ratnasekera, who handles the university’s research collaborations on marine ecosystem and marine biodiversity with China, said that the university has not reached any agreement with the Chinese Government after joint research collaboration with Shi Yan 3 which came to Sri Lanka in 2019.
Prof. Ratnasekera also said that neither the Centre for International Affairs (CINTA) of the University nor the Office of the Vice Chancellor have been requested by any party to reach an agreement with the controversial Chinese research vessel. She noted that they carried out some research with Shi Yan 3 but those were concluded since both the researchers affiliated with the university and with the research were no longer part of the university’s academic staff.
She also stated that no research collaboration with Shi Yan 6 has been planned and that the university has no authority to make such a decision without permissions from the ministries of defence and foreign affairs. Her remarks were in response to queries on whether the university had decided to step away from the research programme that was to take place with Shi Yan 6.
Shi Yan 6 was originally scheduled to dock in Sri Lanka on October 25 but no clearance has been granted by Sri Lankan authorities as of Thursday evening when the vessel was reportedly 474 nautical miles from Hambantota.
Previously, the National Aquatic Resources Research and Development Agency (NARA) said that all data collected by the Chinese geophysical and seismic survey vessel Shi Yan 6 will be in possession of NARA and that those data will be considered as a property of the Sri Lankan Government. When contacted by The Daily Morning earlier, NARA Chairman Prof. Jayantha Wijeyaratne had said: “The NARA informed them (the Chinese) that if they are collecting data in the Sri Lankan seas, we also must be given the opportunity to join it. They permitted us.” Prof. Wijeyaratne also said that NARA will mainly focus on research related to the quality of water, not about the seabed.
Chinese state broadcaster China Global Television Network calls Shi Yan 6 a “scientific research vessel” crewed by 60 that carries out oceanography, marine geology and marine ecology tests.
(By arrangement with ‘The Morning’)