Australia, the United States, India and Japan are worried about China’s multibillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative, which will involve people in more than 70 countries around the world. As reported by a senior US official, these four countries are talking about establishing a joint regional infrastructure scheme as an alternative to China’s project.
The Belt and Road Initiative is a development strategy proposed by Chinese Government that focuses on connectivity and cooperation between Eurasian countries. This project could create a compact economy with China leader, and with the other four countries that would be excluded.
As reported by the unnamed official, the plan, that involve the four regional partners, is still “nascent” and “won’t be ripe enough to be announced” during Australian Prime Minister Turnbull’s visit to the United States later this week. However, the project was on the agenda for Turnbull’s talks with US President Donald Trump.
The unnamed official said: “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.”
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; and Japan takes the lead in countering China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Japan plans to use its official development help (ODA) to promote a broader “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy”.
But China does not intend to stop at traditional routes. 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”.
Xi Jinping guarantees that the plan will be done and he pledged US$124 billion in funding for the plan, and enshrining it into the ruling Communist Party’s constitution in October.