U.S. urges allies to think twice before joining China-led bank
By Matthias Sobolewski and Jason Lange
BERLIN/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States urged countries on Tuesday to think twice about signing up to a new China-led Asian development bank that Washington sees as a rival to the World Bank, after Germany, France and Italy followed Britain in saying they would join.
The concerted move by U.S. allies to participate in Beijing's flagship economic outreach project is a diplomatic blow to the United States and its efforts to counter the fast-growing economic and diplomatic influence of China.
Europe's participation reflects the eagerness to partner with China's economy, the world's second largest, and comes amid prickly trade negotiations between Brussels and Washington.
European Union and Asian governments are frustrated that the U.S. Congress has held up a reform of voting rights in the International Monetary Fund that would give China and other emerging powers more say in global economic governance.
Washington insists it has not actively discouraged countries from joining the new bank, but it has questioned whether the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) will have sufficient standards of governance and environmental and social safeguards.
"I hope before the final commitments are made anyone who lends their name to this organization will make sure that the governance is appropriate," Treasury Secretary Jack Lew told U.S. lawmakers.
Lew warned the Republican-dominated Congress that China and other rising powers were challenging American leadership in global financial institutions, and he urged lawmakers to swiftly ratify stalled reform of the IMF.
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble announced at a joint news conference with visiting Chinese Vice Premier Ma Kai that Germany, Europe's biggest economy and a major trade partner of Beijing, would be a founding member of the AIIB. Continued...