Source: The Hindu
China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA) convened the first, “China-Indian Ocean Region Forum”. It can be seen as the latest Chinese initiative focusing on the Indian Ocean Region (IOR).
Key Highlights of the Forum:
Theme: ‘Shared Development: Theory and Practice from the Perspective of the Blue Economy’.
Marine Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Cooperation Mechanism:
China proposed to establish a marine disaster prevention and mitigation cooperation mechanism between China and countries in the Indian Ocean region.
China expressed its willingness to provide necessary financial, material, and technical support to countries in need.
What is the China-Indian Ocean Region forum about?
It is “the first high-level official development cooperation forum jointly held by China and countries in the Indian Ocean Region” and has “over 100 participants.
The forum issued a “Joint Press Statement” that noted:
China “proposed to establish a marine disaster prevention and mitigation cooperation mechanism between China and countries in the Indian Ocean region”.
Which countries have backed the forum?
The forum was said to be attended by “high-level representatives” from 19 countries, including, Indonesia, Pakistan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Maldives, Nepal, Afghanistan, Iran, Oman, South Africa, and Australia.
But at least two of those countries, Australia and Maldives have emphasized that they did not participate officially.
Where does India stand?
Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA):
What are China’s plans for the IOR?
The CIDCA forum is the latest initiative to reflect Beijing’s view that:
China has often been accused of engaging in “debt diplomacy” in these countries under its Belt and Road Initiative allegedly in the name of infrastructure development.
Since 2008, China has regularly deployed a contingent of naval warships in the Gulf of Aden and established its first foreign military base in Djibouti in 2017.
At the same time, India's absence is seen as an attempt to challenge India’s traditional presence in the region amid apprehensions of politicization of the Indian Ocean region.