Recently, China convened a first “China-Indian Ocean Region Forum” bringing together 19 countries from the region. Experts believe that the Chinese forum apparently is aimed at countering India’s strong influence in the Indian Ocean region where India-backed organisations like the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) have taken strong roots.

 

Details

  • The China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA) held a meeting of the China-Indian Ocean Region Forum on Development Cooperation.
  • CIDCA is an organisation connected with the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
  • The meeting was attended by 19 countries from the region – and all of India’s neighbours, except for India itself.

 

Chinese presence in IOR

  • China is contending for influence in the strategic Indian Ocean region with substantial investments in ports and infrastructure in several countries.
  • China has established a full-fledged naval base in Djibouti, its first outside the country.
  • It 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.
  • China has also invested in infrastructure of the Maldives.

 

India’s presence in IOR

  • India has strong influence in the Indian Ocean region where India-backed organisations like the IORA have taken strong roots.
  • PM Modi has proposed “Security and Growth for All in the Region” (SAGAR) in 2015 for active cooperation among the littoral countries of the Indian Ocean region.
  • The Indian Navy-backed ‘Indian Ocean Naval Symposium’ (IONS) seeks to increase maritime cooperation among navies of the region.

 

About ‘Indian Ocean Rim Association’

  • IORA is an inter-governmental organisation which was established in March 1997.
  • It was formerly known as the Indian Ocean Rim Initiative and the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation (IOR-ARC).
  • The IORA Secretariat is based in Mauritius. It became an observer to the UN General Assembly and the African Union in 2015.
  • Members – It has 23 Member States and 9 Dialogue Partners. China is a dialogue partner in the IORA.
  • Objectives —
      • To promote sustainable growth and balanced development of the region;
      • To focus on those areas of economic cooperation which provide maximum opportunities for development, shared interest and mutual benefits;
      • To promote liberalisation, remove impediments and lower barriers towards a freer and enhanced flow of goods, services, investment, and technology within the Indian Ocean rim.