China on Tuesday said that one of its ships that has docked at a Sri Lankan port will not affect the security of any country and should not be obstructed by any third party.

The Yuan Wang 5 sailed into the Hambantota port on Tuesday morning despite security concerns raised by India that China could use the ship to spy on vital installations in its southern region.

International shipping and analytics websites describe the Yuan Wang 5 as a research and survey vessel, but Indian media reports claim that it is a dual-use spy ship.

“The Yuan Wang 5 is a powerful tracking vessel whose significant aerial reach – reportedly around 750 km – means that several ports in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh could be on China’s radar,” The Indian Express reported.

The ship was initially scheduled to arrive in Hambantota port, a facility built and leased by Chinese companies, on August 11. But the Sri Lankan foreign ministry deferred the visit on August 8. In a U-turn few days later, it granted permission for the vessel to dock on the island from August 16 to August 22.

While New Delhi did not express its objections on the matter publicly, the foreign ministry on July 28 had said the “government carefully monitors any development having a bearing on India’s security and economic interests”.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin dismissed security concerns. “I want to stress again that the marine scientific research activities of the Yuanwang-5 ship are consistent with international law and international customary practice,” he said.

The spokesperson said said the Yuan Wang 5 “successfully berthed” at Hambantota port with active cooperation from the Sri Lankan side.

“Chinese Ambassador to Sri Lanka Qi Zhenhong hosted the on-site welcoming ceremony, which was attended by Member of Parliament Mahinda Wijesekera as representative of the Sri Lankan President and more than ten heads of parties and heads of friendly communities,” Wang said. “The atmosphere was warm and welcoming.”

Wang added that China and Sri Lanka are traditional friendly neighbours, who are committed to all-around, mutually beneficial and friendly cooperation in various areas.

“China feels deeply about the economic and social difficulties facing Sri Lanka at the moment,” he said. “China has been doing its utmost to support and help Sri Lanka pull through the difficulties.”

When asked about India’s concern regarding the research vessel, Beijing’s envoy in Sri LankaQi Zhenhong, who was present at the Hambantota port, said: “I don’t know, you should ask the Indian friends...Maybe this is life.”

On August 8, without naming India, China had said that it was “completely unjustified” for other countries to pressurise Sri Lanka and “grossly interfere” in its internal affairs. Days later, India rejected China’s “insinuations” that it has put pressure on Sri Lanka to turn the vessel away.

On Tuesday, Hambantota port officials said that the ship was allowed to visit the island on the condition that it will not carry out any research while in Sri Lankan waters.