In response to China’s massive “Belt and Road Initiative” (BRI), Japan and India have teamed up to design trade routes into Africa.
The project, termed the “Asia-Africa Growth Corridor” (AAGC), aims to “create a free and open Indo-Pacific region by rediscovering ancient sea-routes and creating new sea corridors.”
Africa has emerged as the next “frontier” of development, with several of its countries experiencing economic growth at rates between 7 and 10%. Japan, which has been involved in Eurasian infrastructure development for decades, has promised to contribute $200 billion to emerging Asian and African markets. This will more than likely be a source of funding for the AAGC.
China has also increased activity in Africa, with trade growing about 20% each year between 2000 and 2015.
“One of the main goals of the AAGC is to balance out the influence – and holdings – of China in this rapidly emerging part of the world,” reports Forbes. “In other words, so India and Japan can better claim their respective slices of the pie.”
Chinese President Xi Jinping held a summit in May, where he discussed the BRI with representatives 60 countries including the US, Russia, and Japan.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled the AAGC just a few days after the Beijing summit, which he refused to attend over concerns that a 3,000 km section of the BRI passes through the Kashmir region – an area that is claimed by both Pakistan and India.
India’s size and growing economy put it in a good position to benefit from the BRI, and its refusal to participate in the project shows just how far relations between the two countries have fallen.
“China routinely threatens countries when it finds issues even remotely connected to its own sovereignty question being violated,” argues Ram Madhav, an influential member of Modi’s ruling party.
Meanwhile, Japan seems to be considering signing on with China – a move that could strain relations with India.
“We hope the initiative will contribute to regional and global peace and prosperity by adopting ideas held by all in the international community. We want to cooperate in that respect,” said Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe after meeting with Xi this month in Germany.
“This statement…was also seen as Japan’s tactical pressure on the US as a key ally joining a Chinese-led initiative could force President Donald Trump to reconsider his stance on withdrawing from the Asia-Pacific region,” reports Sputnik.
Meanwhile, India is also working on the “Act East Initiative,” a series of road and rail projects into South and Southeast Asia and maritime projects at Chabahar in Iran. And Russia is working with Iran and India to build the “North-South Transport Corridor,” a trade route that begins in St. Petersburg, Russia and extends all the way to the west coast of India.
Editor’s note: China pretends this is an altruistic move to enhance trade in Asia. But other countries still remember that China is a totalitarian dictatorship, where 90% of the people still live in poverty. They also see China’s ambitions to control other countries (such as Taiwan) and its willingness to make threats. China is not the country most Asian nations want to follow.