Since Xi Jinping looks to aggressively grow China’s economic and political impression upon the Eurasian and African regions through his mark Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), an immediate reaction can be sensed from other Asian powers that are starting and intensifying international development activities of their own. India and Japan, however, at the front line of this development, formulating a common vision which could be tagged the “other” New Silk Road.
Just after some days Xi Jinping’s epic Belt and Road Forum in May, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched a new idea to oppose the international ambitions of China at a meeting of the African Development Bank (AFDB) in Gujarat. Amid a meeting among Modi and Japan’s Prime Minister Abe on November 2016 and assembled together by a group of research organizations come something dubbed the Asia-Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC). An initiative led by a partnership between Japan and India, AAGC, is to better coordinate the economies of South, Southeast and East Asia with Oceania and Africa. The aim is to “create a ‘free and open Indo-Pacific region’ by rediscovering antique sea-routes and creating new sea corridors.”
It is conceptualized similar to a progression of upgraded, for the most sea-based economic triangles that will associate cities and other production hubs crosswise over regions that are anticipated to quickly increase and turn into the world’s next epicenters of economic development. With the economies of a large group of countries as of now developing at rates between seven and ten percent per year, Africa is definitely the next leading edge of development. With the trade growing at around 20 percent per year since 2000, China has been amazingly dynamic in this area, adding up to $188 billion in 2015. The AAGC is to balance the impact – and holdings – of China in this quickly rising part of the world, which is also one of the main goals of it. As it was, India and Japan can better claim their particular slices of the pie.
The AAGC, however, a possibly capable module that attaches perfectly into India and Japan’s other trans-continental interconnectivity and development endeavors. On the other hand, Russia, India, and Iran are busy at work putting together the North-South Transport Corridor, a multimodal course that goes from the west coast of India to the St. Petersburg, Russia. Act East Initiative, India also has its Connect Central Asia policy, an array of new road and rail projects that are reaching out all through South and Southeast Asia, and seaport improvement projects at Chabahar in Iran, and possibly, at Trincomalee in Sri Lanka and Paira in Bangladesh. The Japan has been in the Eurasian infrastructure development game for decades, building roads, rail lines, metro systems, and ports over the regions through financing vehicles like the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and, more recently, the Japan Infrastructure Initiative.
The partnership amongst India and Japan to create improved economic networks all through Asia and Africa as China’s Belt and Road Initiative is a heavily doing likewise hinting at a geopolitical duality that is happening in Asia. Looking at it from a certain angle, it shows up as though two orders are growing: China is on the one side with its best down processes and government-controlled economic institutions and enterprises, and on the other of it is a coalition being driven by India and Japan with their democracies and ‘western-style’ liberal economies. Interestingly, India and Japan are the two countries with which China has historically bad relations with, some conflicts keep on going below the surface. It claims that China is creating an Indian territory through parts of its China-Pakistan Economic Corridor has driven to an openly snubbing by India of Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road get together in May.
Barely a month after tensions with India erupted in the Doklam border region, as Indian and Chinese soldiers had some moderately low-force showdowns. Coming to the relationship between the China and the Japan, it is packed with some profound adversity, which goes far more than a simple political or economic rivalry. The Gulshan Sachdeva of Jawaharlal Nehru University recently stated in an op-ed in the Hindustan Times that “With cooperation and coordination both India and China can make the 21st century a truly Asian century. Otherwise conflicting Asian powers will offer opportunities for the West to continue its hegemony for some more decades”.
“The AAGC was duly derided in Beijing as a New Delhi-Tokyo scheme – aided and abetted by Washington – to sabotage China’s drive towards Eurasian integration,” Pepe Escobar claimed in the Asia Times.
It added that “The AAGC has been spun by India as a project ‘acceptable for the banking sector,’ as opposed to BRI’s ‘government-funded model”. Supposing that India’s pan-Eurasian dreams add up to more than the thoughts of a PM, it will be intriguing to look how these two competing models of connectivity-building come out in the field. The building of roads and railways and power plants and new industrial zones and new cities are all important bits of the same puzzle of development in a territory of the world that is quickly on the increase. The best part of the pieces unavoidably comes together to create something that no single nation or coalition of countries could do on its own.