The move, an alternative to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, is on the agenda on Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s visit this week to the U.S. where he will meet U.S. President Donald Trump and discuss a range of issues, including setting up a joint regional infrastructure and financing scheme alternate to China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
On Monday, the Australian Financial Review reported citing a senior U.S. official, the United States, India and Australia are exploring setting up of a joint regional infrastructure scheme alternative to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, in an attempt to spread modern values and push back Communist China influence.
The official was quoted as saying the ”nascent“ plan involving four regional partners ”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 is on the agenda for Turnbull’s talks with U.S. President Donald Trump during his visit to the U.S.
As per the source, the preferred terminology is to call the plan an “alternative” to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, rather than a “rival.”
“No one is saying China should not build infrastructure,” said the U.S. official. “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.”
When asked to respond on the topic, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, said Japan, India, the United States and Australia have regularly exchanged views on issues of common interest and made it clear that “It is not the case that this is to counter China’s Belt and Road”.
Furthermore, as per Japan’s 2017 draft of its official development assistance (ODA), it plans on using this platform to promote a broader “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy” which will include “high-quality infrastructure”.
The Indo-Pacific strategy, endorsed by the U.S., is seen as an alternative to China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
Of late, the United States, Japan, Australia and India have revived their four-way talks to deepen security cooperation and coordinate alternatives for regional infrastructure financing to that offered by China.