China holds first China-Indian Ocean Region Forum
3rd Dec, 2022
The China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA) held a meeting of the China-Indian Ocean Region Forum on Development Cooperation on November 21, 2022.
About the Meeting:
- China holds its first meeting with 19 countries in Indian Ocean region excluding India.
- Theme of the meeting: “Shared Development: Theory and Practice from the Perspective of the Blue Economy”.
- Objective: The Chinese forum is aimed at countering India's strong influence in the Indian Ocean region where India-backed organisations like the Indian Ocean Rim Association, (IORA), which has a membership of 23 countries have taken strong roots.
- Key Points discussed:
- China has proposed to establish a marine disaster prevention and mitigation cooperation mechanism between China and countries in the Indian Ocean region.
- China is ready to provide necessary financial, material, and technical support to countries in need.
- It will also aim for strategic Indian Ocean region with substantial investments in ports and infrastructure in several countries, including Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
China’s trying to influence Indian Ocean region:
- China has established a full-fledged naval base in Djibouti, its first outside the country.
- It has also acquired the Hambantota port in Sri Lanka on a 99-year lease.
- Built the port at Pakistan’s Gwadar in the Arabian Sea opposite India’s western coast besides infrastructure investments in the Maldives.
- China is a dialogue partner in the Indian Ocean Rim Association formed in 1997.
Importance of Indian Ocean for India:
- Influence global Trade: The Indian Ocean region transports 75% of the world’s maritime trade and 50% of daily global oil consumption.
- Long Maritime Boundary: With a coastline of over 7,500 km, India has a natural interest in enhancing maritime security.
- Securing Sea lanes of Communication: In the Indian Ocean, three major Sea Lanes Of Communication (SLOCS) play a crucial role in the energy security and economic prosperity:
- Connectivity to the Asian Island Countries: SLOC connecting the Persian Gulf to the Indian Ocean through the Strait of Hormuz (transporting the bulk of energy exports to major import destinations like India, ASEAN, and East Asia),
- SLOC connecting the Indian and Pacific Oceans through the Straits of Malacca (integral to the smooth flow of trade with ASEAN, East Asia, Russia’s Far East and the US).