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Dealing With a Reluctant Power

Dr. Evan A. Feigenbaum
 

By Dr. Evan Feigenbaum (original source Foreign Affairs) 

“In 2013, China launched an initiative to establish a new multilateral development institution, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. The AIIB, Beijing argued, could help fill a multitrillion-dollar gap in financing for railways, roads, power plants, and other infrastructure in the world’s fastest-growing region. But the United States treated China’s proposal as a challenge to the existing regional and global development institutions that it had helped establish in the decades after World War II. Washington not only refused to join the bank itself but also launched a quiet diplomatic campaign to dissuade its allies from doing so either.

Washington contended that the new institution could undermine the existing system by offering investment without imposing the anticorruption and environmental standards used by existing groups. And some in Washington also implied that Beijing had a deeper purpose: to construct an alternative set of China-oriented international institutions free from both U.S. dominance and the liberal values espoused by the United States and other industrialized democracies. Many believed that Washington’s stated uneasiness about standards actually masked a geopolitical concern that the bank was the first step in an effort by Beijing to construct a Sinocentric world order.”

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