India and Japan have agreed to align their ongoing projects in Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and India’s northeast region to expedite the completion and enlarge the size of the projects. They also plan to jointly take over several other projects in and around Bay of Bengal where China has already developed many in the past.
New Delhi (Sputnik) — India has dismissed the notion of India-Japan connectivity collaboration in Asia as a counter-measure for China’s One Belt One Road project. India’s Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar has said that New Delhi has its own agenda to develop infrastructure in the Asian region particularly in South-East Asia as in the recent past major trade have been shifting towards this region and Japan is one such nation with which India’s broad goals are aligned.
“I do not think to project our co-operation as competition with China is doing justice to our side. We have probably more ownership of silk road than anybody else, even if we have somewhere lost the branding,” S Jaishankar said at a function in New Delhi.
The statement comes just ahead of a bilateral meet scheduled in November between the US President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe where Japan is expected to put forward a proposal to promote free trade and defense cooperation across land and sea to Southeast, South and Central Asia, and beyond to the Middle East and Africa among India, Japan, Australia and the US. The step is largely being considered as a countermeasure to China’s ‘One Belt One Road’ or ‘Silk Route’ initiative.
“It’s important that India-Japan relations not be defined in negative terms. Every movie doesn’t require a villain. Asia, particularly South Asia, is so under-connected that any connectivity which comes in is good for this provided it follows broad principles, is sustainable and its respectful of local sensitivity. That’s the connectivity vision we follow,” Jaishankar added.
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Japan plans to invest $110 billion in the Asian countries in the next five years wherein India has also projected several connectivity projects in Bangladesh and Myanmar. India is also seeking Japanese help to develop the Andaman and Nicobar islands which are strategically crucial for the Indian Ocean Region.
“It makes sense to work together instead of undercutting each other. We have both strategic and economic interest in Sri Lanka. Our neighbors are also sometimes more secure if there is another party in the room. Regionalism will grow if there are higher comfort levels. Having Japanese in the room or American in the room will actually help,” Jaishankar explained the need of other country’s investment in the region.