In an apparent bid to counter China’s influence in Africa, India and Japan on Thursday agreed to further promote collaboration in the continent and work together to enhance connectivity in the Indo-Pacific region.
The joint statement issued after talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe affirmed their strong commitment to their partnership in “achieving a free, open and prosperous” Indo-Pacific region. It did not make any specific reference to the disputes in the South China Sea.
With China pushing its One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative, the statement said the two prime ministers welcomed the deepening of their connectivity dialogue aimed at achieving concrete progress, and decided to further accelerate such an initiative.
“The two Prime Ministers expressed their strong commitment to work together to enhance connectivity in India and with other countries in the Indo-Pacific region including Africa,” it said.
It said Modi and Abe welcomed the efforts to explore the development of industrial corridors and industrial network for the growth of Asia and Africa. “They shared the desire to further promote cooperation and collaboration in Africa in line with the priority measures identified through the India-Japan dialogue on Africa and the processes of the India Africa Forum Summit (IAFS) and Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD).”
India and Japan also underlined the importance of all countries ensuring the development and use of connectivity infrastructure in an open, transparent and non-exclusive manner based on international standards and responsible debt financing practices, while ensuring respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, the rule of law, and the environment.
India has objections to China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which passes through Pakistan-administered Kashmir. The CPEC is a part of China’s OBOR project.
The joint statement reaffirmed the importance of “quality infrastructure” which, among others ensures alignment with local economic and development strategies, safety, resilience, social and environmental impacts, and job creation as well as capacity building for the local communities.”
“They also highlighted the importance of peaceful resolution of disputes, including through full respect for legal and diplomatic processes, without resorting to the threat or use of force, and in accordance with the universally recognised principles of international law, notably the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS”.”
They reaffirmed the importance of freedom of navigation, overflight and unimpeded lawful commerce in accordance with international laws.
The two Prime Ministers reiterated their desire and determination to work together to maintain and promote peace, stability, and development in the Indo-Pacific region.”
“The two Prime Ministers affirmed strong commitment to their values-based partnership in achieving a free, open and prosperous Indo-Pacific region where sovereignty and international law are respected, and differences are resolved through dialogue, and where all countries, large or small, enjoy freedom of navigation and overflight, sustainable development, and a free, fair, and open trade and investment system,” the statement said.
The statement said that India and Japan could play a central role in safeguarding and strengthening such a rules-based order.
The two Prime Ministers welcomed the renewed momentum for trilateral cooperation with the US and Australia.
They pledged to reinforce their efforts to align Japan’s Free and Open Indo-Pacific Strategy with India’s Act East Policy.
The two Prime Ministers welcomed the India-Japan cooperation on development of India’s North Eastern Region (NER) and noted the setting up of the India-Japan Act East Forum.
The two Prime Ministers also stressed the importance of the development of the smart islands to enhance regional connectivity and decided to further accelerate consultations to identify technologies, infrastructure and development strategies for the purpose