International Current Affairs 2017

Latest International Current Affairs 2017 with news summaries and current events in International developments, geopolitical, organizations, groupings and fora related updates for India and world with all important national news updates and events for the year 2017.

Sri Lanka formally hands over Hambantota Port to China for 99-Year Lease

Sri Lanka has formally handed over its southern strategic port of Hambantota to China on 99-year lease. Two Chinese firms managed by China Merchants Port Holdings Company (CMPort) and Sri Lanka Ports Authority will own port and the investment zone around it.

Hambantota port is strategically located right in middle of vital energy supply lines in Indian Ocean, connecting Middle East and East Asia. It had gained strategic significance after Sri Lankan government had decided to build massive deep-sea port and airport with huge Chinese loans.

Background

The Sri Lankan government had signed a $1.1 billion deal in July 2017 to sell a 70% stake in Hambantota port to China. Under the 99-year lease agreement, Sri Lanka received $300 million as initial payment. The deal was signed after port suffered heavy losses, making it impossible for Sri Lanka to repay its debts to China which was used to open Hambantota port in 2011.

The 99-year lease deal had fanned concerns of countries with competing strategic interests with China, particularly India and US. Local residents of Hambantota are also protesting selling of “national assets to foreign entities” leading to violent clashes.

Significance of Port

For China, Hambantota port is linchpin of its One Belt One Road project, which aims to build new Silk Road of trade routes between China and more than 60 countries in Asia, Africa, Middle East and Europe. That project is underpinned by network of harbours across world that has put China in position to challenge US as the world’s most important maritime superpower. Other similar developments in region include Gwadar port in Pakistan, which is centrepiece of $55 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

India’s Concern

India is apprehensive that the port is part of Chinese ‘string of pearls’ with an objective to surround India and dock its military vessels. The String of pearls is a geopolitical theory on potential Chinese intentions in the Indian Ocean region.  To ally India’s concern, Sri Lanka  earlier had ruled out the possibility of the strategic port being used as a “military base” by any foreign country.

15th Meeting of RIC Foreign Ministers held in New Delhi

15th trilateral meeting of the Russia-India-China (RIC) foreign ministers was held in New Delhi. It was held between India’s External Affairs Minister, Sushma Swaraj, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and China’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Wang Yi.

Key Facts

The discussions of meeting focused on regional security, issues affecting Asia-Pacific region, counter-terror efforts and coordination at regional and multilateral forums. The ministers reiterated importance trilateral format as platform to foster closer dialogue and practical cooperation in identified areas

The ministers released joint communiqué after meeting. They agreed to strengthen the trilateral dialogue for consultation and coordination on regional and global issues of mutual interest.

International and regional peace: They held that cooperation is conducive to maintaining international and regional peace, stability and promoting global economic growth and prosperity. They stressed for establishment of just and equitable international order based on international law and mutual respect, fairness and justice. They held that various crises in the world should be resolved in accordance with the international law.

Terrorism: The three nations also condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and reaffirmed that all acts of terrorism are criminal and unjustifiable irrespective of their motivations, committed wherever and by whomsoever.

Arms Race: They called for prevention of arms race in outer space for maintaining international peace and security. Russia and China reiterated that they welcome India’s participation in Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation.

RIC Forum

It is a trilateral grouping of Russia, India and China that has met annually since 2002. In recent years, it has functioned as complement to other frameworks involving three countries and including Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

Tags:

Advertisement