The Indian Information Fusion Center – Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR) may soon be linked via satellite to similar centers in other countries to create a monitoring network, which will mainly track illegal fishing, but will also be able to monitor the Chinese army. activities in the Indo-Pacific region.
As the leaders of India, Australia, Japan and the United States prepare to hold the second in-person Quad Summit in Tokyo on Tuesday, they are expected to discuss a proposal to build a network linked by satellites to continuously monitor the Indo-Pacific region.
The monitoring network is officially proposed as an initiative by the Quad to monitor illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing (IUU fishing). Sources in New Delhi, however, said it could also serve as a mechanism to collectively monitor the aggressive movements of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy in the Indo-Pacific regions.
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Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to join President Joe Biden of the United States, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese of Australia and Prime Minister Fumio Kishida of Japan in Tokyo for the Quad Summit.
The Indian Navy-run IFC-IOR at Gurugram in Haryana monitors piracy, armed robbery, smuggling, IUU fishing, irregular human migration and “other maritime threats” in the Indian region. ‘Indian Ocean. It monitored 392 IUU fishing incidents in the Indian Ocean region in 2021 and 40 such incidents last month. It is likely to play a key role in the proposed monitoring network, which will also have similar centers run by other countries linked by satellites and thus track illegal fishing in the Indo-Pacific region, sources in New Delhi said. .
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The Quad was launched by India, Japan, Australia and the United States to counter China’s expansionist aspirations in the Indo-Pacific region.
In the past, New Delhi has blocked the United States’ attempt to transform the Quad into a NATO-like security alliance for the Indo-Pacific region, not only because it was reluctant to participate in an initiative openly hostile to the China, but also because such a decision would have had implications for the decades-old strategic partnership between India and Russia.
India has insisted that the Quad should continue its benign agenda, such as providing Covid-19 vaccines to Indo-Pacific nations, helping them build infrastructure and supporting their continued economic development to halt their drift to China.
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India, however, is not opposed to the Quad’s decision to build a surveillance network to monitor the Indo-Pacific region, as it is proposed with the avowed aim of tracking down illegal fishing. Japan, Australia and several other Indo-Pacific countries accuse China of using illegal fishing as a way to assert its vast territorial claims in disputed waters, whether in the South China Sea or at sea. from eastern China.
When Biden hosted Modi and the prime ministers of Japan and Australia at the White House on September 24 last year for the first Quad Summit, the leaders agreed to share satellite data for peaceful purposes, such as as climate change monitoring, disaster response and preparedness, sustainable uses of oceans and marine resources, and responding to challenges in shared areas.
Although the proposed network to monitor illegal fishing could also be used to monitor China’s military activities, a source in New Delhi said its stated aim at present is in line with India’s own vision. as to Quad’s role in promoting a “free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific” and in maintaining “a rules-based order in the region”, underpinned by “respect for the territorial integrity and sovereignty” of all nations.