New Delhi : Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s mid-month India visit for an annual summit will see the launch of Asia-Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC), an initiative seen as providing an alternative to the One-Belt-One-Road (OBOR) initiative of China.
Asia-Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC) is a development cooperation initiative envisaged to link the two continents. The agreement entails development and cooperation projects, quality infrastructure and institutional connectivity, enhancing capacities and skills and people-to-people partnerships.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Abe will outline the vision of the AAGC during the three-day summit that starts on September 13. The initiative is being widely seen as an attempt to balance Beijing’s efforts to expand its geopolitical influence in Asia and Africa, particularly through OBOR cross-continental connectivity initiative.
“We would naturally like the initiative (Asia-Africa Growth Corridor) to be based on universally recognised international norms, good governance, rule of law, openness, transparency and equality,” Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar had said at a consultative meeting of AAGC here last week. One of the reasons India stayed away from the OBOR Summit in May was that China did not hold any consultation with India and, therefore, the initiative lacked transparency.
“There must be a strong sense of local ownership, which can only happen with consultative project designing, transfer of technology and encouragement of skills,” Jaishankar had said at the meeting organised by the Research and Information System (RIS) for Developing Countries, a think-tank under the external affairs ministry.
India has been opposing the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the flagship project under OBOR. The CPEC is proposed to pass through Pakistan occupied Kashmir. Delhi has been accusing Beijing of infringing on sovereignty of India by joining Pakistan for the CPEC. “Our activities must fully conform to balanced ecological and environmental protection and preservation standards. And, I am compelled to add, respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the foreign secretary said.
Tokyo, while participating in the OBOR Summit, had adopted a cautious approach, but its troubledties with China over territorial matters has cast a shadow over its participation in the OBOR initiative, which has, of late, also been criticised for putting the smaller participating nations at the risk of being caught in a debttrap.
“No less important is ensuring of financial responsibility, so that there is no encouragement of unsustainable debts,” Jaishankar said.