India, Japan plan an alternative to OBOR
The Dollar Business Bureau
China’s 2 day unveiling of the One Belt One Road initiative, saw 29 heads of state coming together to partake in the $900 bn investment initiative aimed at developing land and sea trade routes from China to Europe; there were two conspicuous absent nations from the meet, Japan and India.
India in its statement reply to China’s invitation to the initiative said, “We are of firm belief that connectivity initiatives must be based on universally recognized international norms, good governance, rule of law, openness, transparency and equality... Connectivity projects must be pursued in a manner that respects sovereignty and territorial integrity.
India’s reluctance is plain and open. The CPEC route threatens to violate India’s sovereignty as the project passes through the Pak Occupied Kashmir (PoK) region and India cannot accede to China’s dominance through the initiative, which experts believe is bigger than the one undertaken by the British empire. China will be strengthened geographically, economically and politically posing a security threat to India by creeping into its backyard!
India and Japan plan to soft launch their own initiative at the upcoming annual meeting of the African Development Bank (AfDB) at Ahmedabad on May 22. The initiative is based on Asia-Africa connectivity. It is said discussions for this initiative began during the Indian PM’s visit to Japan last year. For Japan and India this is important as both nations are striving to draw attention to their strength which is equivalent or more than that of OBOR.
The setting for the announcement is significant as AfDB has 78 member countries with 53 member states of the continent. The launch of the African Economic Outlook 2017 report which is jointly produced by UNDP and OECD will be an apt occasion for both the OBOR non-participant countries to pitch in their viewpoint towards the multi-continent plan dominated by China.
Experts opine Japan has a better alternative to OBOR as it is democratic in nature. Named the “Partnership for Quality Infrastructure”, Japan aims to build on its own maritime shores taking in African shores and including India along the way. Tokyo has already invested $150 bn in the project. Japan and India hope to build ports in friendly nations to expand trade mutually.
Media reports suggest that the specific mention of a ‘free ocean’ in the document conveys the discomfort that Japan and India feel at China’s intrusion into the South China Sea, which is inching closer to India’s ports. The other point Japan intends to make is to recognise India’s ‘Act East Policy’, which is again being thwarted by China’s overtures to Myanmar. Though the Partnership for Quality Infrastructure is still a paper-plan prepared by JETRO, there is no doubt given the rising tensions in the Asian region, Japan can clearly put it into action taking New Delhi’s connections in the African region. A Japan-India combine is the only fitting reply to OBOR which India needs now.