Sunday, January 17, 2021

What Is The US-India ‘Blue Dot Network’ That Aims To Counter Chinese BRI Initiative?

What is the Blue Dot Network that was missed by the mainstream media amidst the celebration of Donald Trump’s India visit and the deadly Delhi riots? According to experts, the Blue Dot Network between four Quad partners is set to antagonize China and cement India-US ties.

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In the US – India joint statement that focuses on improving Comprehensive Global Strategic Partnership in military, space and energy cooperation, the emphasis on the ‘growing concern of financial situation’ in developing countries and the ‘subsequent need to have transparent and robust financial practices’ has said to be irked the Chinese. Reason – the US initiated Blue Dot Network.

What is Blue Dot Network?

Launched three months ago in the 35th ASEAN summit in Thailand by the ‘Quad’ – Australia, United States, Japan, and the fourth member, India, the Blue Dot Network is a certification program for aspects that cover infrastructural projects that are primarily focused on sustainability and transparency.

Led by the United States International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), Blue Dot Network found a mention in the newly published Indo-Pacific strategy report that had a total of 91 references to China.

Void of having any taxpayer’s money, as the functioning core of the Blue Dot Network, the DFC with the help of Congress has raised a sum of $60 billion. All of which is private money. Three months post its announcement, the Blue Dot Network is already in action with US-Japan investing $10 billion in LNG.

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In India too, the investments are already in place in the education sector and another project that offers training to procurement professionals in the state of Maharashtra. With India now being the fourth partner of the Quad, the ambition is bigger.

As a part of the Blue Dot Network, infrastructure projects will be sanctioned in developing countries with an effective goal to incorporate global principles and meet international standards. The approved projects will be marked as a Blue Dot – setting a standard of excellence and thereby attracting foreign investment to help the economy to flourish.

One such project has its base in the Maldives, a country reeling under the Chinese debt. The interest now lies in the developing Asian countries that are in a high debt situation. Especially countries that are experiencing an alarming rate of Chinese influence. The move is said to be a clear retaliation to China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

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Belt and Road Initiative vs Blue Dot Network

Pitted as the ambitious project of President Xi Jinping, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a strategy adopted by China to invest in infrastructural and developmental projects in as many as 70 countries across Asia, Europe, and Africa.

According to experts, while BRI aims to provide direct financial aid to countries in debt, the blue dot chooses to invest in projects that could benefit the respective country. The experts further put a worrying remark by questioning the structure of the blue dot network – Is it providing first-world solutions to countries struggling with third-world problems?

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Despite not being explicit about its intent, the blue dot network is intrinsically an initiative to push back the Chinese influence in the region and this is where India’s interest lies. India has much to benefit from the initiative on security front too as it addresses its concern of Chinese agitation along the border.

While China is aware of the implications and the nature of it, it can only voice out for the anti-China intent of the initiative but it can hardly oppose a private sector investment in the regions.

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