Harsh V. Pant, Aditya Gowdara Shivamurthy, Observer Research Foundation:
On November 21, the Communist Party of China (CPC)’s China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA) launched its first-ever Indian Ocean Region Forum. The meeting was attended by representatives and former leaders from over 19 Indian Ocean Region (IOR) countries – from Australia to southern and eastern Africa. There was no representation from India during this meeting, or perhaps, as several media outlets have suggested, no Indian representatives were invited.
The hybrid conference was driven by the theme “Shared Development: Theory and Practice from the Perspective of the Blue Economy” and ostensibly focussed on strengthening cooperation, expanding the blue economy, and fostering a maritime community with IOR countries. During the meeting, China also proposed providing necessary financial, material and technical assistance and establishing maritime disaster prevention and mitigation cooperation with IOR countries. The latest development indicates Beijing’s keenness to institutionalise its influence in IOR and challenge India’s status quo in its backyard.