Will the AIIB ever matter?


When Isaac, an editor at Foreign Policy, sent me an email two weeks ago asking if I could write a piece on the new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), I quickly wrote back promising 1,200 words within a few days. I thought it would be pretty easy to come up with the points I wanted to make, and all I would need was one uninterrupted day to pull them together into a coherent article.

As I see it, the creation of the AIIB is not nearly as important as everyone seems to think, and if Beijing’s decision to create the AIIB, and Washington’s decision to oppose it, was part of the struggle for future geo-political dominance in Asia, let alone the world, they were both going to be wrong. There were only two useful parts to this story, it seemed to me. First, it showed that neither Washington nor Beijing understood very well either the functioning of the global balance of payments or the reasons why the West, and especially the US, dominates the regime that governs global trade and capital flows (but I guess we already knew that). Second, Washington had handled this whole process so ineptly that it had managed to transform a minor initiative by Beijing into a huge symbolic disaster for Washington and a great victory for Xi Jinping…

Will the AIIB ever matter?

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