US, allies to provide alternative to China’s Silk Road: report

Australia, the United States, India and Japan are planning to set up a joint regional infrastructure scheme as an alternative, and not a rival, to China’s multibillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to limit Beijing’s sphere of influence, the Australian Financial Review reported on Monday.  Citing a senior US official, it said the plan was still in its “nascent” stage. Australian Prime Minister Turnbull will discuss it with US President Donald Trump during his visit to the US this week. Explaining the plan, the official said China can build infrastructure like a port which, on its own, is not economically viable. The US and its allies could make it so by building a road or rail line linking that port, the official said. Japanese chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga said Japan is planning to use its official development assistance to promote an Indo-Pacific strategy including high-quality infrastructure which is seen as a rival to BRI. Last year, Chinese President Xi Jinping came up with the project of building the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st-century Maritime Silk Road, calling for the integration of the region through broadening trade and increasing cultural exchanges.