China Current Affairs - 2020

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Myanmar-China sign 33 deals of BRI: Increases China’s ease of access of Indian Ocean

On January 18, 2020, China and Myanmar signed 33 new deals under BRI (Belt and Road Initiative) to implement China-Myanmar Economic Corridor. Also, a concession agreement was signed by he countries to implement the deep seaport project called Kyaukphyu Special Economic Zone.

Highlights

The agreements were signed to strengthen the collaboration in infrastructure sector that includes rail connectivity, roads and power interconnection projects. However, the controversial Myitsone dam project that is backed by China was not discussed.

India’s Concerns

The project allows China to have easy of access to Indian Ocean. This is because this route bypasses Strait of Malacca through which China imports most of its oil requirements. Strait of Malacca connects Andaman Sea and South China Sea. This route is on the international boundary and is far from India’s territories as compared to the Myanmar route. With China of Ease of access to Indian Ocean, India has to strengthen its Navy to safeguard its interests in the region. Also, Indian Navy is already witnessing increased Chinese presence in the IOR.

This will aid in China’s plans of String of Pearls.

Myitsone Dam

The project was proposed across Irawaddy river. It was suspended and the Chinese tried to revive it at an estimated cost of 3.6 billion USD. The project is controversial as it is located at a 60-mile distance from the Sagaing fault line.

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Sahyog-Kaijin-India-Japan joint exercise for Coast Guards

On January 16, 2020, India and Japan took part in a joint exercise called “Sahyog-Kaijin”. The exercise was held between the coastal guards of the countries at Chennai Port.

Highlights

The Japanese ship Ehigo and 4 ships of Indian Coast Guard participated in the exercise. The coast guards conducted the scenario of capture of a hijacked ship and rescue of crew in a joint operation. They also demonstrated search and rescue operations and displayed their fire-fighting skills.

The exercise was conducted based on the agreement signed by the Coast Guards of the countries in 2006.

Significance

The exercise is important for the countries to handle piracy in the Indian Ocean region. Also, both the countries being part of the Quad grouping, it is important for them to refresh their skills, learning from each other and stay connected to ease operations at sea.

Other exercises

Apart from Coastal Guard Exercises, Indian and Japan hold other military exercises as well. The “Shinyuu Maitri”is the joint Air Force Exercise that was held in October 2019 for the first time.

The India-Japan Maritime Exercise called JIMEX was conducted in 2013 for the first time. It focuses on maritime security cooperation.

Dharma Guardian is the military exercise that is conducted between the armies of the countries.

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