UK wants to join China-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank

13 Mar 2015


The US has expressed concern over UK's effort to join as a founding member of the Chinese-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank that could emerge as a rival of the World Bank.

The UK is the first big western economy to apply for membership of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), which would fund Asian energy, transport and infrastructure projects.

The US has, however raised questions over the bank's commitment to international standards on governance.

In a statement, UK chancellor George Osborne said the UK had "actively promoted closer political and economic engagement with the Asia-Pacific region" and that joining the AIIB at the founding stage would create "an unrivalled opportunity for the UK and Asia to invest and grow together".

Investing in the bank would give UK companies an opportunity to invest in the world's fastest growing markets.

The US, however, views the effort as a ploy by China to challenge the US hold over global financing, and has persuaded regional allies Australia, South Korea and Japan to steer clear of the move.

US National Security Council spokesman Patrick Ventrell said in response to the move, "We believe any new multilateral institution should incorporate the high standards of the World Bank and the regional development banks."

"Based on many discussions, we have concerns about whether the AIIB will meet these high standards, particularly related to governance, and environmental and social safeguards," he added.

Meanwhile, Beijing has extend a guarded welcome to the UK's "application to join the China-proposed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank".

China said it would seek the opinion of other founding countries before formally allowing UK to become a "prospective founding member" of the $50-billion AIIB.

The decision however, was not universally welcomed in the country, and a number of influential voices also ridiculed a country which is seen as second only to Japan among the colonial powers that "humiliated" China in the 19th and early 20th century.

"At first this sounds like it gives us a lot of 'face' but actually the sun has set on the [British] empire and in international organizations [the UK] is really just a s**t-stirrer and America's thug for hire," Gao Cheng, an associate researcher at the National Institute of International Strategy in the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, a top government think-tank, wrote on her public microblog account.

"When it really counts [the UK] is pragmatic. Just look at the Ukraine situation, [the UK] is not following [American] meddling but just stays silent and makes money."

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