China defends military ship's planned visit to India's neighbour Sri Lanka

China said on Friday it hoped "relevant parties" would refrain from interfering with its legitimate maritime activities, after New Delhi voiced concern over a Chinese military ship's planned visit to a port in India's southern neighbour Sri Lanka.

India worries that the Chinese-built and leased port of Hambantota will be used by China as a military base in India's backyard. The $1.5 billion port is near the main shipping route from Asia to Europe.

Shipping data from Refinitiv Eikon showed Chinese research and survey vessel Yuan Wang 5 was en route to Hambantota and due to arrive on Aug. 11, at a time when Sri Lanka is facing its worst economic crisis in seven decades. India has provided Sri Lanka with nearly $4 billion in support this year alone.

During a weekly briefing late on Thursday, an Indian foreign ministry spokesman said the government was monitoring the planned visit of the Chinese ship, adding that New Delhi would protect its security and economic interests.