China hosted the first "China-Indian Ocean Region Forum" this week, bringing together 19 countries from the region, including all of India's neighbours, with the exception of India itself, which was the lone absentee from a new Beijing strategic initiative.
According to a statement from the organizers, the China International Development Cooperation Agency, the forum brought together 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, and Australia.
Reportedly, India has not been invited.
The CIDCA is China's new development aid agency, led by former Vice Foreign Minister Luo Zhaohui, who previously served as envoy to India and Pakistan.
The forum highlighted China's increased diplomacy in the Indian Ocean region (IOR).
Earlier this year, during a visit to Sri Lanka, Foreign Minister Wang Yi proposed the establishment of a new forum "on the development of Indian Ocean island countries" in order to "build consensus and synergy, and promote common development." He urged Sri Lanka to "play a significant role" in the initiative.
China "proposed to establish a marine disaster prevention and mitigation cooperation mechanism between China and countries in the Indian Ocean region, and stood ready to provide necessary financial, material, and technical support to countries in need" at CIDCA's Kunming forum, according to a CIDCA statement.
China also "proposed, with Yunnan's support, the establishment of a blue economy think tank network for China and countries in the Indian Ocean region."
According to the statement, the participating countries agreed to work together to "strengthen policy coordination, deepen development cooperation, increase resilience to shocks and disasters, and enhance relevant countries' capacity to obtain economic benefits through sustainable use of marine resources such as fisheries, renewable energy, tourism, and shipping."
China, which has established a China-Africa Satellite Remote Sensing Application Center, has also urged countries to "jointly address non-traditional security challenges and participate in global development cooperation in order to forge a united, equal, balanced, and inclusive global development partnership."
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