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Japan to promote a trade axis with US India and Australia to counter Chinese offensive

Japan will propose a strategic dialogue among leaders of the United States, India and Australia, aiming at counteracting China’s expansion under its “Belt and Road” policy, foreign minister Taro Kono told Japanese business daily.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is expected to propose the idea to US President Donald Trump on November 6 when they plan to hold a summit meeting,  the daily quoted the foreign minister, in a significant political development before the President Trump's first visit to Asian countries since he assumed office.

The proposal is for the leaders of the four nations to promote free trade and defence cooperation across land and sea to Southeast, South and Central Asia, and beyond to the Middle East and Africa, Kono said in the interview with the daily conducted on October 25.

“We are in an era when Japan has to exert itself diplomatically by drawing a big strategic picture,” the foreign minister was quoted as saying. “To maintain free and open ocean, the economy and security will surely be on the table,” he said.

Kono said the aim was to also promote high-quality infrastructure investment across Asia to Africa the statement indicating  parallel effort will one to counter the one promoted by China.

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s vast Belt and Road infrastructure project was included in the ruling Communist Party’s constitution on Tuesday, giving it greater policy thrust and added pressure to succeed. The Belt and Road plan, a Silk Road-like initiative, is a vehicle for China to take a greater role on the international stage by funding and building global transport and trade links in more than 60 countries.

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