Japan, India welcome to join B&R initiative, but China need not bow to demands

By Hu Weijia Source:Global Times Published: 2017/6/6 22:18:39

The Belt and Road (B&R) project initiated by China in 2013 is open and inclusive and any countries, Japan and India included, are welcome to join, but that does not mean that China needs to agree to any requests they might have.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said recently that Japan is ready to cooperate with China's B&R initiative under certain conditions including harmony with a Trans-Pacific economic zone, according to the Japan Times. The comments came after another report from the Japan Times saying that Japan could be open to joining the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank if certain issues are resolved.

Japan is extending an olive branch to China trying to warm ties with Beijing, but it may have some selfish calculations by trying to push the B&R initiative in a direction beneficial to itself. Japan's change in attitude toward the initiative may be part of efforts to breathe new life into the Trans-Pacific Partnership, to which Japan is a signatory but most of the countries along the B&R route are not.

China would be pleased to see Japan's inclusion in the B&R initiative, but no concessions will be made by China on matters of principle to ingratiate Tokyo. If a driving force behind Japan's change in attitude is just to get benefits from the prosperity of the route, Tokyo will have nothing to boast about.

China's B&R initiative has received more praise than ever from the international community as the project has proved its ability to boost local economies in countries like Pakistan. There are more than 60 countries covered in the initiative that represent over 60 percent of the world's population. The B&R initiative will develop well, with or without Japan's participation. We are willing to see the initiative help build up a cooperation platform for countries along the route, but China does not need to beg any countries, Japan and India included, to join the initiative.

Japan need not and should not make indiscreet remarks or make demands upon China's B&R initiative. As for Tokyo, if it feels the cons of joining the initiative outweigh the pros, it would be better to stay outside it. Anytime Japan thinks the pros outweigh the cons it could apply to join the initiative unconditionally, because the door will remain open for any countries who want to enhance mutual beneficial cooperation with the current members.

The B&R initiative is a joint endeavor based on an equal-footing and consultation among all its members. If Japan wants to participate in projects under the B&R framework such as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, the country needs to obtain consent from all stakeholders. Japan could be taken as the reference for any countries that have not yet decided whether to join the B&R initiative, India included.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times. bizopinion@globaltimes.com.cn

Posted in: INSIDER'S EYE

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