Canberra [Australia] : In a bid to counter China’s spreading influence, the United States, India, Australia, and Japan are in talks to establish a joint regional infrastructure scheme as an alternative to Beijing’s multibillion-dollar Belt and Road initiative or One Belt One Road (OBOR) Initiative, the Australian Financial Review reported on Monday, citing a senior U.S. official.
The unnamed official was quoted as saying that 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 U.S. 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.”
“No one is saying China should not build infrastructure,” the official said, and added, “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.”Representatives for Turnbull, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Trade Minister Steven Ciobo did not immediately respond to requests for comment, reports ANI.
First mentioned during a speech by Chinese President Xi Jinping to university students in Kazakhstan in 2013, China’s OBOR 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 USD in funding for the plan, and enshrining it into the ruling Communist Party’s constitution in October.