Four-nation alliance may become alternative to China’s ‘Belt and Road’ initiative

The United States, Australia, Japan and China may form an economic-and-security alliance to counter China’s “Belt and Road Initiative,” a multi-billion-dollar plan that realized Beijing’s vision of globalization in which China is the economic center of gravity, not the U.S. or the West.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is likely to discuss the plan with President Donald Trump during a visit to Washington, D.C., this week.

A source told American media that the place was in its “nascent” stage and that there would not be any announcement of it during this week’s meeting.

In addition, American media reported that the Trump was pushing to revive discussions with the three other nations to increase security cooperation while devising an economic alternative to the Belt and Road Initiative. Diplomats from the four nations held discussions about the project on the sidelines of the ASEAN meeting last November.

China’s initiative originally envisioned the involvement of 65 countries, which collectively accounted for 60 percent of the world’s people (4.5 billion) and roughly one-third of global GDP.

The plan “aims to connect Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa with a vast logistics and transport network, using roads, ports, railway tracks, pipelines, airports, transnational electric grids and even fiber optic lines,” said an American media report. [source]

Analysis: This is an effort to counter what the U.S. and the other nations involved obviously as an economic and, more importantly, a security threat. In many respects, China behaves globally like the federal government behaves domestically — everything ‘given’ comes with strings attached. The Chinese are not spending this kind of money on their “project of the century” as an act of charity; Beijing seeks to not only bolster its economic power, which will feed its military strength, but it also wants to call more of the shots, globally.

As for the U.S., the four-nation alternative would not only serve Washington’s regional economic and security interests, it would also go a long way towards convincing nervous allies in the Indo-Pacific region that America has no intentions of abandoning them.

Jon E. Dougherty is a political, foreign policy and national security analyst and reporter with nearly 30 years of experience in both fields. A U.S. Army veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom, he holds BA in Political Science from Ashford University and an MA in National Security Studies/Intelligence Analysis from American Military University.

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