Explained International

Decoding the ‘JAI’ Partnership – Why it Threatens the Dragon

JAI Trilateral

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is attending the G-20 summit in Argentina. On November 30, 2018, he tweeted a picture (as shown below) of three world leaders holding the first-ever meeting of the ‘JAI Trilateral’, an upcoming partnership of three countries.

This partnership that the Prime Minister called as ‘JAI’ holds a special significance in today’s ever-evolving geo-political dynamics. From a foreign policy point of view, it is the culmination of sustained efforts for close co-operation between the three countries, which is India, Japan and United State of America. This is also a step towards the much bigger idea of QUAD in which Australia will also join these three countries that formed the JAI Partnership.

Here we explain the basis of this JAI partnership and how it impacts the international order, especially with China.

Malabar Exercise has Historically Distressed China

Malabar Exercise is a joint Naval exercise between Japan, India and United States of America. These joint exercises are standard between armed forces across the world. However, the participation in these exercises is actually the ‘choice of countries’ to decide among themselves, in order to set the ‘balance of power’ in different regions. For example, this Malabar exercise can be carried out by all those countries which do not exchange complementarities with China. In 2016, when this exercise was carried out off the coast of Japan, it had raised a lot of heat in China.

Asia-Africa Growth Corridor – Counter to the Chinese OBOR

Two countries of JAI Partnership – India and Japan are working together on a game-changing Asia-Africa Growth Corridor (AAGC) which is seen as a counter to China’s One Belt and One Road Initiative (OBOR) initiative. China is so rattled by this plan that one of its leading news agencies called it a ‘division plan’.

Checking the Pakistan – China’s new pivot to the Indian Ocean

In response to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call to the global community to reject terrorism in all its forms, especially the state-sponsored terrorism, Pakistan has been boycotted by many countries. Whether it was in the form of a boycott from SAARC Nations or USA (a partner in JAI) curtailing Pakistan’s funding, its isolation gave it a signal that international countries will no longer support its theory of ‘Good and Bad’ terrorism. It is due to this isolation that Pakistan has accepted the idea of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) under the Chinese OBOR, which is termed by many experts as ‘debt trap’ for Pakistan. In this way, China has actually made Pakistan a new pivot to access the Indian Ocean region through the land route.

Herein lies the significance of ‘JAI Partnership’ where a much closer cooperation between India and USA can counter the rising influence of China lurking in such a close proximity of India, as USA has already been manipulating  Pakistan in recent times.

Indian Ocean Region – Controlling the Chinese Assertiveness

China has been increasing its influence in the Indian Ocean region as most of the oil from Middle East Asia to China passes through sea route from this region. It is also a reason as to why China wants to reach Middle East countries through the land route under the OBOR plan. China has reportedly been building many ports in countries like Pakistan, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Djibouti among others which all fall in the Indian Ocean region. However, JAI Partnership would help in promoting a power balance in the region.

USA already has much influence in the Indo-pacific region through its United States Indo-Pacific Command located at Hawaii and through its strategic base at Diego Garcia located right in the center of Indian Ocean. After Prime Minister Narendra Modi took over, India has also been building many strategic ports all across the Indian Ocean region and encircling China.  We have already dealt with this aspect in one of our earlier articles titled, ‘India’s Necklace of Diamonds’ in much detail. Therefore, all the countries of JAI Trilateral will help in promoting more peace in the Indian Ocean region.


In most of his foreign visits, Prime Minister Narendra Modi brings back significant achievements to the nation. But this first-ever meeting of the ‘JAI Trilateral’ at G-20 Summit and the official beginning of this trilateral is a paradigm shift in India’s foreign policy vision. The future cooperation between India, Japan and USA will further the cause of mutual prosperity and peace. Interestingly, their present engagements with each other as explained above lays a strong base for the development of futuristic new partnerships.