China-Indian Ocean Region Forum: Explained | China’s moves in the Indian Ocean

Source: The post is based on the article “Explained | China’s moves in the Indian Oceanpublished in The Hindu on 5th December 2022

What is the News?

China has convened the first “China-Indian Ocean Region Forum” in the southwestern Chinese city of Kunming.

What is the China-Indian Ocean Region Forum?

Organized by: China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA)

Theme: Shared Development: Theory and Practice from the Perspective of the Blue Economy.

Participating countries: The forum was attended by “high-level representatives” and “senior officials” from 19 countries: Indonesia, Pakistan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Maldives, Nepal, Afghanistan, Iran, Oman, South Africa, Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania, Seychelles, Madagascar, Mauritius, Djibouti, and Australia.

Note: Australia and Maldives released statements stating that they did not participate officially.

Outcome of the forum: The forum issued a “Joint Press Statement” that noted China’s proposal to establish a marine disaster prevention and mitigation cooperation mechanism between China and countries in the Indian Ocean region.

What are China’s plans for the IOR?

The China-Indian Ocean Region Forum has underlined China’s stepped-up interest in the Indian Ocean Region(IOR) where it is already a major trading partner for most countries and where lie sea routes vital to China’s economic interests. 

The forum also reflects the Chinese view that it has a clear stake in the region and that more such initiatives are likely. 

For instance, China has already set up its first-ever overseas military facility in Djibouti near the Horn of Africa. Chinese military ships, tracking vessels, and submarines have been visiting ports in the IOR with greater frequency. 

The Chinese Navy has a long-term plan to deploy six aircraft carriers to secure China’s maritime interests, and two of them will be based in the Indian Ocean Region.

How does India view the China-Indian Ocean Region Forum?

India has viewed China’s recent moves in the region suspiciously including the recent visit of a Chinese military tracking vessel, the Yuan Wang 5 to Sri Lanka. 

Moreover, India sees the Indian Ocean Rim Association(IORA) as an already established platform for the region which has 23 members including Australia and Maldives with 10 dialogue partners which include China, Japan, Russia, the U.K. and the U.S.

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