First China-Indian Ocean Region Forum on Development Cooperation held in China, India not invited
According to the China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA) a meeting of the China-Indian Ocean Region Forum on Development Cooperation took place on 21 November 2022, in which 19 countries took part. India was not invited by the Chinese.
The meeting was held in a hybrid manner under the theme of “Shared Development: Theory and Practice from the Perspective of the Blue Economy” in Kunming, Yunnan Province of China.
According to CIDCA at the November 21 meeting, China has proposed to establish a marine disaster prevention and mitigation cooperation mechanism between China and countries in the Indian Ocean region.
Countries which participated in the Chinese forum
The following 19 countries participated in the meeting; Indonesia, Pakistan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Maldives, Nepal, Afghanistan, Iran, Oman, South Africa, Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania, Seychelles, Madagascar, Mauritius, Djibouti, Australia and representatives of 3 international organisations.
Maldives denies participating in the meeting
The Maldives Foreign ministry in a statement issued on 27 November 2022 has denied participating in the meeting .It said that it had officially communicated to the Chinese government its inability to participate in the forum.
Chinese attempt to counter Indian influence in the region
According to experts, the Chinese forum is apparently aimed at countering India’s strong influence in the Indian Ocean region where India-backed organisations like the 23 members Indian Ocean Rim Association, (IORA) have taken strong roots. China is a dialogue partner in the IORA formed in 1997.
The Indian Navy-backed Indian Ocean Naval Symposium (IONS), established in 2007, is a premier forum for cooperation and collaboration among navies of littoral states of the Indian Ocean Region.
Chinese effort to increase its influence in the Indian Ocean region
China is trying its influence in the strategic Indian Ocean region with substantial investments in ports and infrastructure investments in several countries, including Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
China has established a full-fledged naval base in Djibouti, its first outside the country. Beijing has acquired the Hambantota port in Sri Lanka on a 99-year lease besides building the port at Pakistan’s Gwadar in the Arabian Sea opposite India’s western coast.
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