China holds its first meeting with 19 countries of the Indian Ocean Region without India

China holds its first meeting with 19 countries of the Indian Ocean Region without India

This week, China held a meeting with 19 countries in the Indian Ocean Region, from which India was absent. However, sources say that India was not invited to this meeting. China-Indian Ocean Regional Forum on Development Cooperation on November 21 said in a statement by the China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA), an organization attached to China's foreign ministry. 19 countries participated in the meeting.

The meeting was held in a hybrid direct-online mode under the theme "Shared Development: Principles and Practices from the Perspective of Ocean Economy" in Kunming, Yunnan Province, the statement said. Representatives of 19 countries and three international organizations including Indonesia, Pakistan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Maldives, Nepal, Afghanistan, Iran, Oman, South Africa, Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania, Seychelles, Madagascar, Mauritius, Djibouti, and Australia attended the meeting. Took part in

According to sources, India was reportedly not invited. Last year, China held meetings with some South Asian countries on COVID-19 vaccine cooperation without India's participation. CIDCA is headed by Luo Zhaohui, former Vice Foreign Minister and Ambassador to India. According to the organization's official website, Zhaohui is the secretary of the CPC (ruling Communist Party of China) leadership group of the CIDCA.

CIDCA's official website states that the organization aims to set strategic directions, plans, and policies for foreign aid, coordinate and advise on critical foreign aid issues, advance the country's reforms in matters related to foreign aid and identify major programs and evaluate their implementation. During his visit to Sri Lanka in January this year, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi proposed setting up a "Forum on the Development of Indian Ocean Island Countries".

When asked whether the CIDCA meeting is what Wang proposed, the Chinese Foreign Ministry clarified to the media that the November 21 meeting was not part of it. China has been striving to increase its influence in the strategic Indian Ocean region with investments in ports and infrastructure in several countries, including Pakistan and Sri Lanka. China's platform is aimed at countering India's strong influence in the Indian Ocean region, where pro-India organizations such as the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), which has 23 countries as members, have taken strong roots. In addition, Prime Minister Narendra Modi proposed the "Security and Growth for All in the Region" (SAGAR) initiative in 2015 for active cooperation among the coastal countries of the Indian Ocean region.