Joint ef­forts help­ing main­tain peace in the In­dian Ocean

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - Views - The author is a se­nior colonel from Xiang­shan Fo­rum Sec­re­tariat.

The In­dian Ocean has be­come in­creas­ingly im­por­tant to China with its rise. The strate­gic in­ter­ests of China in the In­dian Ocean can be found in the fol­low­ing ar­eas.

The first in­ter­est is re­source se­cu­rity, par­tic­u­larly oil se­cu­rity. Now, China is the largest oil con­sumer and the largest oil im­porter in the world, and the In­dian Ocean has huge re­serves of oil and nat­u­ral gas. The Per­sian Gulf con­tains 62 per­cent of the proven oil re­serves in the world and 35 per­cent of nat­u­ral gas. Over the past years the Per­sian Gulf has been China’s largest source of oil im­ports, and the to­tal amount of oil im­ported from the Per­sian Gulf ac­count for half of China’s to­tal.

The se­cond in­ter­est is the se­cu­rity of the trad­ing route. China is the largest trader in the world with de­pen­dence on for­eign trade of more than 80 per­cent, and 90 per­cent of its for­eign trade is through the sea. It means the sea line of com­mu­ni­ca­tion is of ex­treme sig­nif­i­cance to China. The In­dian Ocean is an im­por­tant pas­sage link­ing China to South Asia, West Asia, Europe, Africa and Ocea­nia. And the oil trans­ported through the In­dian Ocean ac­counts for 80 per­cent of the to­tal im­ported by China, and China’s trade via the In­dian Ocean ac­counts for 40 per­cent of the to­tal. So it is no ex­ag­ger­a­tion to say that rapid devel­op­ment of China’s econ­omy is based on the boom­ing trans-In­dian Ocean trade.

The third in­ter­est is the se­cu­rity of China’s western bor­der. There are many coun­tries in the In­dian Ocean re­gion with dif­fer­ent lev­els of devel­op­ment, and dif­fer­ent so­cial and po­lit­i­cal sys­tems and cul­tures and cus­toms. It makes the In­dian Ocean a re­gion where var­i­ous non-tra­di­tional se­cu­rity events fre­quently oc­cur. Since the western part of China is lo­cated near the heart of Eura­sia, its geose­cu­rity, par­tic­u­larly the sta­bil­ity and devel­op­ment of China’s western bor­der area, is di­rectly in­flu­enced by the sta­bil­ity in the north­ern rim of the In­dian Ocean.

The fourth in­ter­est is the safety of the peo­ple. The rim of the In­dian Ocean has be­come one of the im­por­tant des­ti­na­tions for Chi­nese peo­ple with more than 1 mil­lion Chi­nese there. Due to the tur­bu­lent se­cu­rity si­t­u­a­tion in the re­gion, Chi­nese peo­ple there are kid­napped, robbed or killed from time to time.

Peace and co­op­er­a­tion in the In­dian Ocean is not only China’s con­cern, but also the con­cern of other pow­ers. The strate­gic in­ter­ests of other pow­ers can be found in the fol­low­ing ar­eas:

First, to en­sure the se­cu­rity of the In­dian Ocean as an im­por­tant in­ter­na­tional pas­sage for trade. Since In­dia is the re­gional power in South Asia, its boom­ing econ­omy re­lies heav­ily on the sea line of com­mu­ni­ca­tion in the In­dian Ocean. Ja­pan, the Re­pub­lic of Ko­rea, Thai­land, the Philip­pines and Sin­ga­pore, too, rely heav­ily on the routes in the In­dian Ocean with a great amount of raw ma­te­ri­als im­ported and a great amount of prod­ucts ex­ported through the In­dian Ocean.

Se­cond, to en­sure the se­cu­rity of oil sup­ply from the Mid­dle East. In­dia im­ports more than 70 per­cent of its to­tal oil needs. With its de­mand for en­ergy in­creas­ing in re­cent years, In­dia has made the Mid­dle East its main en­ergy source. Crude oil from the Mid­dle East is still in­dis­pens­able for the US econ­omy. Nearly all the crude oil needed by Ja­pan is im­ported, and 70 per­cent of that comes through the In­dian Ocean.

Third, to re­spond to non-tra­di­tional se­cu­rity threats. The In­dian Ocean is a re­gion where var­i­ous non-tra­di­tional se­cu­rity events, as well as in­ter­na­tional ter­ror­ism and ex­trem­ism in­ci­dents fre­quently oc­cur. Many coun­tries suf­fer the con­se­quences of ter­ror­ism. In ad­di­tion, nat­u­ral dis­as­ters are of­ten re­ported in the coun­tries around the In­dian Ocean, as 70 per­cent of the nat­u­ral dis­as­ters in the world oc­cur there.

As an­a­lyzed above, a peace­ful, sta­ble and pros­per­ous In­dian Ocean is not only in the in­ter­est of the peo­ple in this re­gion, but also in the in­ter­est of the big pow­ers. There­fore, co­op­er­a­tion in the In­dian Ocean is the only choice for the big pow­ers.

To pro­mote peace and se­cu­rity and en­sure free­dom of nav­i­ga­tion in the In­dian Ocean, the big pow­ers can co­op­er­ate to pro­vide public goods for coun­ter­ing piracy and ter­ror­ism at sea, fight­ing drug traf­fick­ing, and for joint search and res­cue op­er­a­tions, hu­man­i­tar­ian as­sis­tance, and in­ter­na­tional peace-keep­ing. Their mil­i­taries can in­crease co­op­er­a­tion and en­hance mu­tual trust through joint ef­forts in train­ing and ex­er­cises.

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