The Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is a Chinese-led initiative to improve infrastructure in Asia. There has been a large amount of international attention, and some controversy surrounding the bank partly due to the US opposition to the bank. South Korea and Denmark are the latest in a slew of ‘U.S. allies’ to join the AIIB. The deadline for founding national status is March 31st.
Shannon Tiezzi calls the AIIB America’s “disaster” in her piece for the Diplomat, sharing the opinion that Washington has overly politicized the bank. Tiezzi writes that the “floodgates opened” when the U.K. announced it would be joining the AIIB, paving the way for other European powers (and G7 partners) such as Germany, France and Italy to follow suit. The author writes that the U.S. ensured that this would be global news by staunchly opposing the AIIB and avidly trying to keep its allies from joining. The author elaborates that the US has opposed the AIIB since the beginning, fearing that a China-back regional development bank would undermine the World Bank, the Asian Development bank and thus the US’ own influence in the region. Tiezzi argues that the AIIB has only become a symbol of China-US rivalry because the US framed it that way, and as more of its friends join, the US is seen as losing and isolated.
Tiezzi notes that while there are real concerns about the governance structure, and environmental and human rights safeguards in the AIIB, the best way for the US to ensure that China does not dominate the AIIB is rather to encourage like-minded countries to sign on. Additionally, the author highlights that the US has probably underestimated growing frustrations with stalled reforms in existing Bretton Woods organizations. Tiezzi asserts that “there are no good options left for Washington at this point”; if the US continues to refuse to join it will look like a “stubborn outlier” that refuses join in Chinese-led initiatives deemed a positive development by the consensus; if it joins now it will be clear that it is only signing on because it was unable to persuade its friends to join its boycott.
Tiezzi concludes her piece by outlining some ‘lessons learned’ for the US; namely that it needs to find better ways to voice its objections to China’s growing influence than pressuring its partners to boycott Chinese projects. The author notes that there will many more Chinese initiatives in the near future to which the US could, and should, apply its lessons learned.
The opinions expressed in the article summary above are the opinions of the author alone and not that of Global Summitry or its staff, editors and or advisers.
Tiezzi, Shannon. “America’s AIIB Disaster: Are There Lessons to Be Learned?” The Diplomat. N.p., 18 Mar. 2015. Web. 25 Mar. 2015.