Beijing, Aug 2 - The Asia Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC) sponsored by India and Japan is welcome -- as long as it does not try to trip China's Belt and Road initiative, a Chinese newspaper said on Wednesday.
Announced by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in May, the AAGC, essentially a maritime corridor, was seen by some as a counterbalance to the Belt and Road initiative, the state-run Global Times said in a report.
"The new venture, jointly led by India and Japan - two countries that have so far opted not to join the B&R initiative - sets out a vision for the better integration of South Asia, Southeast Asia and East Asia with Africa and Oceania," it said.
The Times said the India-Japan vision indicates an overlap between the AAGC and the Belt and Road project "and invites controversy over the actual intentions behind the growth corridor.
"It goes without saying that India and Japan could feel free to embark on a new connectivity initiative and no one is begging them to join the B&R initiative.
"As long as the AAGC aims to embrace inclusive growth and promote joint prosperity, the corridor should be encouraged.
"But if India and Japan design the corridor to deliberately counterbalance China's B&R, they should think twice before rushing to it because the route of the AAGC has an extensive geographic overlap with the route of the B&R initiative," the report said.
"That's particularly the case, considering that China has already made huge commitments to developing Africa while the India-Japan partnership is only just taking shape.
"If the AAGC aims to squeeze out China's B&R initiative instead of serving as a complement, it actually divides what's supposed to be a united force to forge ahead with inclusive growth in dozens of countries and regions along the route of the B&R initiative.
"India, for its part, should be particularly level-headed and guard against any over-assertive plans that may go awry."