Diego Garcia a paralel to South China Sea disputeSeptember 1, 2016
The Hague ruling demolished China’s expansive historical claims in the South China Sea and pointed out that Beijing has no entitlement to an economic zone within 200 miles of Mischief and Thomas reefs.
This is a landmark judgement that upholds a rule-based international maritime order enshrined in the UNCLOS.
The United States of America, the United Kingdom as well as France for that matter, abide by the UNCLOS, since it is them who supported this order.
However, they are illegally occupying territories that belongs to the Mauritian nation, and these are an encroachment of the republic’s exclusive economic zone guaranteed by international laws.
In the South China Sea dispute, since China is a signatory to the convention, it must now respect the verdict by the PCA, even though it decided boycott the proceedings and dismissed the results as biased, thus rejecting them.
While the international community is urging all relevant parties to follow the ruling of the PCA, they should be made to see with open eyes, the illegal acts caused by the USA, the UK and France against Mauritius in the Indian Ocean.
They should show the way, by respecting Mauritius’ rights and surrender those Islands – Diego Garcia (where the UK and the USA are illegally occupying Mauritius lands and waters) and Tromlin (where France has illicitly snatched the Island away from Mauritius by force).
Mauritius, isolated as it is, will have to protect its territories from terrorists, poachers and of course from the Chinese and Indian ploys to control the Indian Ocean.
If they are allowed to do so, they will put Mauritius economic future at risk.US-UK nuclear base
The US-UK occupation of the Diego Garcia which they turned into a nuclear armed Island in the middle of the Indian Ocean is unacceptable. These super powers should be taken to task for their claims of respect of the law, respect of the sovereignty of other countries and for their claims of acceding to legality in any land occupation that does not belong to them,
They should also be taken to task over their refusal to allow the Chagosiens to return to their homes.
All these can and should be done through the proper channels, and Mauritius could take a leaf from what the Philippines did when it launched a case against the Chinese occupation of territories that are claimed by Manilla.
In this case, the Americans and the British should look at Mauritius as a friendly nation, and instead of applying bullying tactics against Mauritius, they should consider the Island nation as a friend, not an enemy.
It is only when you are an enemy to the US-UK that they will treat you as pariah and they will bully you by taking over land that belongs to you.
If the super powers want to prove they are not bullying and rogue – and not to be seen by a friendly nation like Mauritius as worst than North Korea or so they tell us the North Koreans are rogue and lawless – then they should listen to the country and they should compromise.
If they don’t then Mauritius should take all necessary actions to go to the international maritime courts to lodge a case of expropriation against the super powers.
Mauritius economic miracle
The age of bilateral trade is back, with the Americans pushing for such trade links with countries across the world, and it is now seen as a means to jumpstart both diplomatic and economic relations on a global scale.
Mauritius, which is part of the global supply chain and is attempting a major economic upgrade to tap further into this commercial and business chain, will need even more bilateral agreements to succeed in its second economic miracle.
Our country already has bilateral relations with 10 major global economic powers, namely China, France, India, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Russia, South Africa, United Kingdom and the United States of America.
With the arrival of a new President in Jakarta, the vast Indonesian archipelago, part of which borders the Indian Ocean has set a revolutionary goal: That of playing a leading role in developing a better regional architecture for the Indian Ocea.
And Mauritius is a major player in the Southern Indian Ocean region, occupying an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of 1.9 million km2, extending from the coasts of the Islands of the Republic, up to the Chagos Archipelago (which is claimed by Mauritius).
Port Louis is also an important port for Longliners operating in the South West Indian Ocean region. Many of them are licensed to fish in the EEZ of Mauritius.
It is altogether aiming to be a port of call for the shipping lines in the region, with bunkering services to be offered by Macquarie Bank, and an extended port area that will accommodate more business and transhipment of goods, thus re-inforcing Port-Louis role as the gateway to Africa.
Growing ship traffic in Indian Ocean
A recent study carried out by the French Insitute for the Exploitation of the Sea revealed that ship traffic in the Indian Ocean, has, over the past twenty years, grown by more than 300%, thus raising the strategic bar of the vast ocean and the role that Mauritius should play in its security, economic expansion and diplomatic integration.
It will be a political and an international suicide if Mauritius fails to comprehend and digest this state of affairs that is playing within its immediate surroundings, certainly that now almost 20% of global ship traffic cruises through the ocean.
To understand and to get a better perception of the strategic significance of the Indian Ocean, of its littoral states and the Island states (including Mauritius itself), Mauritius must expand its diplomatic and economic reach.
For the moment, it ends with Malaysia, where Mauritius has a diplomatic office.
Agalega targeted as an Indian naval base.
Before the fall of the Navin Ramgoolam regime, Indian external affairs experts said India was negotiating with Mauritius to build a naval base, and a port as part of economic cooperation expansion. The indications were the port were to be built in Port Louis, and the naval base in Agalega island, which is of strategic interest to India.
They said it was part of India’s plans to counter China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) which is destined to be Beijing’s economic response to America’s Asia Pacific pivot, or rebalancing act.
The rise of the opposition coalition composed of several small political formations in Mauritius in December 2014 seems to have brought a status-quo in the Indian-Chinese competition on the Island.
So far, New Delhi enjoys strong political and diplomatic relations with Mauritius, but it is still not certain whether the government of Sir Aneerood Jugnauth (SAJ) would give in to the Indians over the latter’s desperation to secure the Agalega Islands for its Project Mausam.
Countering China via Agalega
The Islands of Agalega, about 1,000 kilometers north of Mauritius has a population 300, and a total area of 2,600 hectares.
It is seen, by New Delhi, as an important part of India’s military and economic strategy in the Indian Ocean and in Africa where the battle is heating up against China.
It is clear that the Indian government, under Modi, is planning to counter China in Africa against their trade and navy exercises. It appears that Indian defense planners were putting their final touch in their talks with the fallen Mauritius regime headed by Navin Ramgoolam.
Agalega, the Indians said to the Mauritius government over the years, is of strategic maritime and trade security for India, in the Indian ocean, giving it a much needed military and naval base for its forces to patrol the ocean where China would not be able to reach.
The whole game plan is to counter China’s increasing trade and naval influence in the Indian Ocean, and in Africa.
While India is seen as a “mother country” in Mauritius, the Islanders are weary whether an Indian naval outpost in Agalega would spark trouble for the Island vis-a-vis China.
Reviving Zheng He’s dreams!
The Chinese OBOR project goes beyond the South China Sea, where China is facing a legal backlash over its historical claims in the seas where the Southeast Asian nations have their 200 miles exclusive economic zone and where freedom of navigation is essential to global trade traffic.
The OBOR is intended to engulf the entire Southeast Asia as well as part of the Indian Ocean.
In Southeast Asia, the maritime silk route, besides the South China Sea, which could stretch up to the Spratly Islands and reach the Riau Islands in Beijing’s cooperation with Indonesia, the Malacca straits and certainly the Indian Ocean bordering the ASEAN littorals.
It will also stretch towards Sri Lanka, and will encompass the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman seas which reaches the shores of Myanmar.
In the Indian Ocean, it will encroach the international waters, while reaching out to the African littoral coast where Chinese naval missions were led by Zheng He or Cheng Ho, a fleet admiral during China’s early Ming dynasty.