Countering China’s growing influence in Indian Ocean region, India-Japan to work aligned

Moving to stabilize the efforts to balance Chinese inroads into the neighbourhood, India has, in its first step to foreign policy move decided to join hands with japan and Sri Lanka to expand the port in Colombo.

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“The trilateral project aims at increasing Colombo port’s container volume and increase transportation in and around South Asia. The deal comes as China has been using its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) projects to increase its influence in the region”, the statement reported.

India and Japan are also eyeing joint development of the Trincomalee port in eastern Sri Lanka ahead of India’s desire to pursue a Free and Open Pacific Ocean and Indian Ocean strategy.

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Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena’s proposed trip to India for Narendra Modi’s inauguration this week is seen as a boost in this regard with the three countries planning to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in the near future.

Colombo port, through which 90% of Sri Lanka’s seaborne goods pass, connects Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia. It had traffic of 6.21 million twenty-foot equivalent units in 2017, making it Southwest Asia’s busiest port. The port desires to benefit and attain full capacity with a boom in regional economies.

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The three countries will develop the east container terminal, located at the southern part of Colombo port, which has been newly expanded, the statement added further. The trilateral projects also involve developing a facility that will allow large container ships.

Japan meanwhile moved to say that, “If the development of the Port of Colombo takes time, cargo might be transferred to Hambantota.” Some of Japan’s maritime routes run through the Indian Ocean region where India is the primary power, so improved capacity at Sri Lankan ports will improve the security of tankers and commercial ships.


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