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Strengthening Maritime Security: Indian Navy and Sri Lankan Navy Collaborate

A Step to Counterbalance China

India : In a significant move to enhance maritime security in the Indian Ocean region, the Indian Navy and the Sri Lankan Navy convened the 33rd annual Indo-Sri Lanka Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) meeting. The meeting was held onboard INS Sumitra on Thursday 03 November 2023, marking another milestone in the longstanding cooperation between the two navies.

The meet witness the presence of key delegates including the Sri Lankan delegation led by RAdm BAKS Banagoda, Commander North Central Naval Area (NCNA), Sri Lanka Navy, the Indian delegation was headed by RAdm Ravi Kumar Dhingra, Flag Officer Commanding Tamil Nadu and Puducherry Naval Area (FOTNA). Representatives from Coast Guard Regional Headquarters (East) and other senior officers from both countries also participated.

 

The meeting is said to be a game changer in a longer run as it had touched as many factors that will ensure a long-term relationship between the countries.

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Here are a few charter of issues discussed during the meeting and it’s long-term impact on the relationship between the countries.

Diplomatic Method To Secure Maritime Zone

The IMBL meeting is said to be like a diplomatic forum where the naval and coast guard representatives of India and Sri Lanka annually come together to develop bilateral relations, discuss on mutual concerns, and try to improve operational synergy. This year’s meeting took place on Friday, November 3, 2023, off Point Calimere at the Palk Bay, the heart of the Indo-Sri Lanka Maritime Boundary Line.

Discussions on Maritime Security

During the IMBL meeting, the Indian and Sri Lankan naval counterparts engaged in crucial discussions concerning maritime security in the Palk Bay and Gulf of Mannar region.

To Ensure Fishermen’s Safety

Fishermen Safety was one of the prominent topics on the agenda that was reflectied the importance of safeguarding the livelihoods of locals residence who are dependent on the sea.

 

Challenges to Counter Trafficking and Increasing Search and Rescue

Discussion was done on how to curtail contraband trafficking and how to conduct effective search and conduct effective rescue operations and increase transparency

Strengthening Communication Networks

Enhancing the existing communication network and sharing information in a timely manner were identified as essential elements in boosting cooperation between the two navies and coast guards.

Mutual Cooperation and Commitment

The discussions in the IMBL meeting was to reaffirm the commitment of both nations, It was also meant to strengthen mutual cooperation. It is also being expected that the decisions taken will increase the maritime security in the region.

Regional Long-term impact

It is expected that this annual IMBL meeting between the Indian and Sri Lankan Navies will act as a tool for increasing bilateral relationship for potential ramifications for the broader Indo-Pacific region.

Impact on China

1. Increased India-Sri Lanka Cooperation

This IMPL meeting is expected to complicating China’s activities in the region, which will be possible by strengthening collaboration between India and Sri Lanka. It is also expected that this will result in ensuring the maritime security.

2. Heightening for the Scrutiny of China

As India and Sri Lanka are taking steps strengthening maritime bonds. It is being said that this will lead in heightening the scrutiny of China’s actions. And that it will directly impact naval activities and diplomatic transparency

3. India’s Indo-Pacific Strategy Expecting Support

It is being expected that this IMBL meeting will ensure aligns with India’s Indo-Pacific strategy, that is aiming to countering China’s influence. In a longer run it might also inspire other nations to join India’s efforts in balancing China’s growing presence.

China’s strategic interests in the Indian Ocean region

It is not a hidden fact that China’s strategic interests in the Indian Ocean region is not just securing its sea lines of communication, but alao protecting energy security, and in a longer run it aims to expanding its economic and political influence.

Present Beneficiary and Combaters

Beneficiary:

China :

Gains access to resources, markets, and trade routes.

Indian Ocean rim countries :

Benefit from Chinese investments, boosting their economies and job creation.

Countries exporting to China :

Experience increased demand for their products due to China’s expanding economy.

Combaters:

India :

Views China’s presence as a threat and is concerned about encirclement.

United States :

Worried about China challenging its regional dominance.

Countries relying on U.S. security:

Fear disruption to security guarantees and the regional order.

Countering China through Tripartite Strategy

To counter China’s growing influence in the Indo-Pacific region, India, the United States, and Japan are coming together to formulate a comprehensive strategy that will be encompassing on economic, military, diplomatic, and intelligence sharing measures.

Economic Measures

Tariff Impositions:

Levied on Chinese goods to address unfair trade practices.

Diversifying Trade Routes:

Promoting alternative trade routes to reduce economic reliance on China.

Promoting Investment Alternatives :

Japan investing in infrastructure projects in India and Southeast Asia as alternatives to Chinese investments.

Military Measures

Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPS) :

U.S. conducts FONOPS to challenge excessive maritime claims.

Military Sales and Cooperation :

U.S. enhances India and Japan’s defense capabilities.

Joint Military Exercises :

Regular joint military exercises between India, Japan, and the United States to improve interoperability.

Diplomatic Measures

Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD) :

India, Japan, Australia, and the United States form a strategic dialogue for regional cooperation and security.

Strengthening Regional Partnerships :

Building a coalition of like-minded democracies.

Promoting Democratic Values :

Advocating democratic values and human rights in the Indo-Pacific region.

Intelligence Sharing and Coordination

Information Exchange :

Sharing intelligence and information about China’s activities.

Coordinated Military Operations :

Collaborating on military operations to counter potential threats.

Technological Collaboration :

Developing new technologies and capabilities to counter China’s military advancements.

It is being expected that if these three countries India, the United States, and Japan put collective efforts., then, they will be in a position to demonstrate a commitment to a stable and rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific,. Ensuring the balancing China’s growing influence and it will also increase regional cooperation, and safeguard the interests of all nations in the region.

Recommendations

Maintain a strong focus on regional cooperation to counterbalance China’s influence in the Indo-Pacific.

There is a need to organise regular joint military exercises in a proper intervals. Efforts must be for increasing intelligence sharing, and diplomatic efforts with regional partners.

To ensure peace and stability in the region, efforts must be made for increasing and promoting transparency and adherence to international maritime laws

To ensure regional stability and security in the Indo-Pacific it is recommended that this level of collaborative approach by these three countries India, the United States, and Japan is the only way forward. it will be a stand as a testament to their commitment. It is also suggested that these three countries India, the United States and Japan must closely observe the impact of these measures on China’s influence in the region.

 

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