(Washington Post Editorial Board)
The Obama administration suffered a foreign policy setback last week when three European allies — Germany, France and Italy — decided to join a fourth, Britain, as shareholders in a new Chinese-sponsored multilateral development agency for Asia.
When Beijing first proposed the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in 2013, Washington viewed it, not unreasonably, as a Chinese attempt to set up a rival to the U.S.-led World Bank, with the goal of expanding the influence of the People’s Republic across the region. A foreseeable negative consequence of a successful AIIB could be project funding ungoverned by the environmental and anti-corruption safeguards that World Bank borrowers must meet.
The fact that four key European allies found it advantageous to join, despite U.S. insistence, speaks volumes about the ebb and flow of American influence in a region toward which President Obama had promised to “pivot.” Indeed, the Europeans’ moves make it more likely that South Korea and Australia will feel compelled to join the Chinese-led agency, leaving the United States and Japan on the outside looking in. Click here to read more.