Trump, Turnbull to discuss alternative Belt and Road

February 19, 2018 - The U.S., Australia, India and Japan might create their own infrastructure scheme as an alternative to China's Belt and Road initiative.

The news was reported in Australian Financial Review and cites comments from an unnamed U.S. official.

“No one is saying China should not build infrastructure,” says the 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.”

The scheme is expected to be discussed during Australian Prime Minister Turnbull’s visit to the U.S. later this week.

China's Belt and Road Initiative aims to connect Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and the nation has been investing around $150 billion a year in Belt and Road projects including roads, railways, pipelines, telecommunications systems and ports. For example, purchase and construction of port facilities and associated economic zones in Australia, Malaysia, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Myanmar,  Pakistan, Kenya, Tanzania, Oman and Djibouti are intended to provide China with maritime access and economic benefit across the Indian Ocean. These will connect to Piraeus, Greece’s major port, which has been bought by Chinese shipping group COSCO and which will allow direct access to the markets of Europe.

Around 70 countries are participating in the Belt and Road initiative, and the scale of the initiative has concerned the U.S. and allies, as it is seen as an attempt by China to massively boost its economic and political influence. Last year, the U.S., Japan, India and Australia agreed to restore the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, talks aimed at strengthening their cooperation on security. China voiced objects to the move.

China's belt and road initiative has also raised concern in Europe. German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said on Saturday that China was trying "to test and undermine" the liberal Western world order. With the U.S. "no longer by far the strongest power in the world" others were starting to stake their claims, he said.

Source: Maritime Executive