Indian Ocean: Australia, Maldives deny China’s claims of their participation in its Indian Ocean meet

    Indian Ocean: Australia, Maldives deny China’s claims of their participation in its Indian Ocean meet

    China’s Foreign Ministry on Monday evaded a direct response to questions on the denials by Australia and the Maldives that their official representatives participated in the first China-Indian Ocean Region Forum as claimed by a Chinese organisation linked to the ruling Communist Party.

    The China-International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA), an organisation part of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Leadership Group, said it held a meeting of the China-Indian Ocean Region Forum on Development Cooperation on November 21, in which 19 countries took part, according to a press release issued by it.

    CIDCA is headed by Luo Zhaohui, the former Vice Foreign Minister and Ambassador to India.

    According to the official website of the organisation, he is the Secretary of the CPC (the ruling Communist Party of China) Leadership Group of CIDCA.
    “High Representatives” of 19 countries, including Indonesia, Pakistan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Maldives, Nepal, Afghanistan, Iran, Oman, South Africa, Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania, Seychelles, Madagascar, Mauritius, Djibouti, Australia and representatives of 3 international organisations were present, it said.

    India was reportedly not invited, according to informed sources here.

    Subsequently, Australia and the Maldives denied official participation in the meeting.

    Contrary to media reporting, no Australian Government official attended the Kunming China-Indian Ocean Forum on Development Cooperation, Australian High Commissioner to India Barry O’Farrell tweeted on Sunday.

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Maldives issued a statement on Sunday, saying “it is aware of the joint press statement released by the China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA) alleging the participation of the Maldives in the ‘China-Indian Ocean Forum on Development Cooperation’, held on 21 November 2022″.

    “The Ministry would like to clarify that the Government of Maldives did not participate in the above-mentioned Forum, and communicated its decision not to participate in the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China to the Maldives on 15 November 2022. Furthermore, participation by individuals or groups of individuals from the Maldives, does not constitute official representation by the Government of Maldives,” it said.

    Asked at the media briefing about the denials by Australia and the Maldives, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said, “the competent authorities of China have also put out a detailed readout and held a press briefing about the event”.

    “If you are interested in knowing more details, I would refer you to them,” he said.

    The spokesperson also ducked a question about claims by China that 10 Indian businessmen participated in the China-South Asia Expo which was denied by the Indian Consulate in Guangzhou.

    “Regarding the China-South Asia Expo, the Chinese side has issued relevant press releases. I’d like to refer you to the competent authorities for the specifics you asked about,” he added.

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