CANBERRA, March 20 (Xinhua) -- China has a legitimate role to play in ensuring security in the Indian Ocean, a task force report produced by Australian and Indian experts said Wednesday.
The report, titled "Security, Stability and Sustainability in the 21st Century," was officially launched in Canberra Wednesday.
Approaches that seek to exclude China are unlikely to guarantee long-term regional stability, according to the report, commissioned by the Australia India Institute based at the University of Melbourne.
The report describes the northwest Indian Ocean as "potentially one of the most insecure areas on earth." Current security arrangements are seen as "fragile" and "incomplete."
The report calls for an inclusive approach to a region which is now home to the world's most important and sensitive trade routes. It warns that a host of threats, from piracy to failed states and sea-level rise require more active engagement by both great powers and local Indo-Pacific nations.
"We argue for the concept to be inclusive, meaning that China is included, in order to maximise long-term regional security," it said.
The report argues that with China and Japan relying heavily on oil imports shipped via the Indian Ocean, there is a compelling need for better security structures.
A fundamental shift in the balance of power in the Indo-Pacific region, including a decline in the relative military power of the United States, has created significant strategic uncertainties for Australia which are only likely to intensify, the report says.
The report notes Australia's relative neglect of the Indian Ocean Region in its strategic thinking.
But the region is likely to be elevated in strategic importance in the coming Defence White Paper by the Australian government.
Australia, India and South Africa will increasingly have mutual significant security interests this century, and these three nations could form the foundation for new regional maritime security cooperation arrangements in the Indian Ocean, it concludes.
Editor: Zhu Ningzhu