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India, US, Australia and Japan planning to build alternative to China's OBOR: Report

The United States, Japan, India and Australia have recently revived four-way talks to deepen security cooperation and coordinate alternatives for regional infrastructure financing to that offered by China.

Edited by: India TV News Desk, New Delhi [ Published on: February 19, 2018 18:45 IST ]
File photo of PM Modi with US President Donald Trump,
Image Source : MEAINDIA File photo of PM Modi with US President Donald Trump, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and other leaders at a dinner in Manila

In a bid to counter China's increasing influence, India, Australia, the United States and Japan are reportedly mulling over establishing a joint regional infrastructure scheme as an alternative to Belt and Road Initiative.

According to an unnamed US official quoted in the Australian Financial Review the plan involving the four regional partners was still "nascent" and "won’t be ripe enough to be announced" during Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s visit to the United States later this week.

The official said, however, that the project was on the agenda for Turnbull’s talks with US President Donald Trump during that trip and was being seriously discussed. The source added that the preferred terminology was to call the plan an "alternative" to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, rather than a "rival".

Representatives for Turnbull, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Trade Minister Steven Ciobo did not immediately respond to requests for comment made by Reuters.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, asked at a news conference about the report of four-way cooperation, said Japan, the United States, Australia, and Japan, Australia and India regularly exchanged views on issues of common interest.

"It is not the case that this is to counter China’s Belt and Road," he said.

Japan, meanwhile, plans to use its official development assistance (ODA) to promote a broader "Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy" including "high-quality infrastructure", according to a summary draft of its 2017 white paper on ODA. The Indo-Pacific strategy has been endorsed by Washington and is also seen as a counter to the Belt and Road Initiative.

China’s Belt and Road plan is a vehicle for the Asian country to take a greater role on the international stage by funding and building global transport and trade links in more than 60 countries.

Xi has heavily promoted the initiative, inviting world leaders to Beijing last May for an inaugural summit at which he pledged $124 billion in funding for the plan, and enshrining it into the ruling Communist Party’s constitution in October.

Local Chinese governments as well as state and private firms have rushed to offer support by investing overseas and making loans.

In January, Beijing outlined its ambitions to extend the initiative to the Arctic by developing shipping lanes opened up by global warming, forming a "Polar Silk Road".

The United States, Japan, India and Australia have recently revived four-way talks to deepen security cooperation and coordinate alternatives for regional infrastructure financing to that offered by China.

The so-called Quad to discuss and cooperate on security first met as an initiative a decade ago - much to the annoyance of China, which saw it as an attempt by regional democracies to contain its advances. The quartet held talks in Manila on the sidelines of the November Asean and East Asia Summits.

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