China today unveiled plans for three ocean-based “blue economic passages” which will connect Asia with Africa, Oceania and Europe under the Maritime Silk Road venture viewed with concern by India over its impact on the Indian Ocean region.
The proposal was included in “Vision for Maritime Cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative,” which was released by the National Development and Reform Commission and the State Oceanic Administration.
China is willing to engage in all-dimensional and broad-scoped maritime cooperation and build open, inclusive cooperation platforms with countries along the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, promoting mutually beneficial “blue partnerships” and forging a “blue engine” for sustainable development, as per the document.
China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) includes a maze of roads like the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) , Bangladesh, China, India, Myanmar (BCIM) corridor, and the Maritime Silk Road.
While India backs the BCIM, it is opposed to the USD 50 billion CPEC and remains silent on the Maritime Silk Road due to security concerns over its impact in India’s backyard.
India skipped China’s Belt and Road Forum which was held in Beijing to highlight the BRI last month in which leaders of 29 countries took part.
The three blue economic passages will be priority maritime cooperation tasks.
The China-Indian Ocean-Africa-Mediterranean Sea blue economic passage, will run westward via the South China Sea to the Indian Ocean, and link with the China-Indochina Peninsula Economic Corridor, and connect with the China-Pakistan, and Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar economic corridors, the document said.
The China-Oceania-South Pacific passage will run southward via the South China Sea into the Pacific Ocean, while another economic passage is also envisioned linking Europe via the Arctic Ocean.
The document called on countries along the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road to focus on “sharing blue space and developing the blue economy,” which will target issues such as marine environment protection, marine interconnectivity, maritime security and common oceanic governance.
China has promised to abide by market rules and international norms, giving play to the primary role of enterprises, the document said.
The document stressed joint development and benefits sharing among participating countries. “We will plan together, develop together and share the fruits of cooperation,” it said.