Home Global Village Australia, US, India and Japan attempt to counter China’s OBOR

Australia, US, India and Japan attempt to counter China’s OBOR

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Talks for a quadrilateral plan to counter China’s growing global influence started among India, the US, Australia and Japan to find an alternative to China’s multibillion development project known as the Belt & Road Initiative. A report in the Australian Financial Review said, citing a senior US official, “This quad is considering a joint regional infrastructure arrangement with the objective to keep check on China’s increasing influence in the region.”

According to Reuters, this plan was still in the initial stage and will not be announced during Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s three-day visit to the United States on February 23, 2018. An unnamed official informed that the plan was discussed with serious concerns and would come up for consideration during Turnbull and Trump’s meeting.

Turnbull’s upcoming three-day visit at the head of a delegation containing a number of business executives and the meeting with Trump would be the fourth time they have held official talks in less than a year.

The sources also explained that these four countries take this initial plan as an “alternative” to China’s Belt & Road initiative rather than a “rival”. One official told Reuters, “No one is saying China should not build infrastructure. China might build a port which, on its own is not economically viable. We could make it economically viable by building a road or rail line linking that port.”

Likewise, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga at a news conference announced the four-way cooperation between Japan, the United States, Australia and India. They regularly exchange views on matters of shared interests. He added, “It is not the case that this is to counter China’s Belt and Road.” Simultaneously, Japan is also intended to use its Official Development Assistance (ODA) aiming to promote a broader “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy” which includes sophisticated infrastructure, according to a summary draft of its 2017 white paper on ODA.

Read more: The Abe-Modi summit was really an anti-OBOR summit

Earlier, China’s President Xi Jinping mentioned for the first time in his speech delivered to university students in Kazakhstan (Central Asia) in 2013 that China’s One Belt and One Road initiative is a vehicle for the Asian countries to take a greater role on the international stage through funding and constructing global transport and trade routes in more than 65 countries. He has enthusiastically invited world leaders to China for an inaugural summit in May 2017 where he promised to invest $124 billion in funding for the plan.

So, the quadrilateral approach by the four abovementioned states to discuss and cooperate on security could have been relevant as an initiative a decade ago in an attempt to contain China by regional democracies.

Later, China outlined its new Arctic Policy by its first official white paper, released on January 26, 2018. It has identified as a “Near Arctic State”. This paper emphasized that certain conditions in the Arctic have an impact on China’s climate, ecology and economic interests in various fields ranging from agriculture to fishing and forestry, and other sectors as well. As Beijing has shared interests with other Arctic states, it hopes to work with other stakeholders to “jointly build a ‘Polar Silk Road’ and facilitate connectivity and sustainable economic and social development of the Arctic”.

This policy has raised concerns related to China’s takeover of the region. Japan claimed that with the increasing use of Arctic routes, there will be a rise in the number of opportunities for Chinese warships and other vessels to pass through the Soya, Tsugaru and Tsushima straits. The paper added that this has an increasing impact on Japan that its security would be vulnerable so it must strengthen its relevant strategy.

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According to Zhang Zhixing, senior East Asia analyst at Stratford, “China wants to be included in economic benefits here, that is the reason for their involvement even if they do not possess legitimate geographical reasons or logic to be considered a member of the region.”

Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga at a news conference announced the four-way cooperation between Japan, the United States, Australia and India. They regularly exchange views on matters of shared interests.

So, the quadrilateral approach by the four abovementioned states to discuss and cooperate on security could have been relevant as an initiative a decade ago in an attempt to contain China by regional democracies.

News about this planned joint initiative came after the same countries agreed to revive four-way talks known as the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QSD) which were first devised in the 1990s but later abandoned. Turnbull’s upcoming three-day visit at the head of a delegation containing a number of business executives and the meeting with Trump would be the fourth time they have held official talks in less than a year.

On the other hand, China’s B&R initiative is an inclusive project and welcomes all countries of the world to participate to be benefited from this.  


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