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India ‘absent’ as China holds first meeting with 19 countries in Indian Ocean region

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China held a meeting this week with 19 countries in the Indian Ocean region in which India was conspicuously absent.

The meeting was held in a hybrid manner under the theme of “Shared Development: Theory and Practice from a Blue Economy Perspective” in Kunming, Yunnan Province, he said. Representatives from 19 countries, including 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 organizations were present, he added.

India was reportedly not invited, sources told PTI.

Last year, China hosted a meeting with some South Asian countries on COVID-19 vaccine cooperation without India’s participation. CIDCA is headed by Luo Zhaohui, former Deputy Foreign Minister and Ambassador to India.

According to the organization’s official website, he is the secretary of the CCP (China’s ruling communist party) leadership group of CIDCA.

CIDCA’s official website indicates that the objectives of the organization are to formulate strategic directions, plans and foreign aid policies, to coordinate and offer advice on major foreign aid issues, to advance the country’s foreign aid reforms and to identify major programmes, monitor and evaluate their implementation.

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During his visit to Sri Lanka in January this year, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi proposed to establish an “Indian Ocean Island Countries Development Forum”. When asked if the CIDCA meeting was the same as the one proposed by Wang, the Chinese Foreign Ministry clarified to the media that the November 21 meeting was not one of them.

At the November 21 meeting, China proposed to establish a cooperation mechanism for the prevention and mitigation of marine disasters between China and countries in the Indian Ocean region, according to the press release from China. the CIDCA.

China stands ready to provide necessary financial, material and technical support to countries in need, he said.

China is vying for influence in the strategic Indian Ocean region with substantial investments in ports and infrastructure investments in several countries, including Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

While China has established a full-fledged naval base in Djibouti, its first outside the country, Beijing has acquired the port of Hambantota in Sri Lanka on a 99-year lease in addition to building the port of Gwadar in Pakistan. in the Arabian Sea off the west coast of India. infrastructure investments in the Maldives.

The Chinese forum is apparently aimed at countering India’s strong influence in the Indian Ocean region where Indian-backed organizations like the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), which has 23 member countries, have firmly established themselves. rooted.

China is a dialogue partner in the IORA created in 1997.

IORA became an observer to the United Nations General Assembly and the African Union in 2015.

Besides IORA, Prime Minister Narendra Modi proposed “Security and Growth for All in the Region” (SAGAR) in 2015 for active cooperation among coastal countries in the Indian Ocean region.

The “Indian Ocean Naval Symposium” (IONS) supported by the Indian Navy aims to increase maritime cooperation among navies in the region.

Since the June 2020 clash in the Galwan Valley between the Chinese and Indian armies, bilateral relations have been hit hard.

India has always maintained that peace and tranquility along the Line of Effective Control (LAC) is important for the overall development of bilateral relations with China.

(Edited by : Jerome Anthony)

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