US Allies Join China’s AIIB: What Now?

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March 31st marked the deadline for countries to join the China-sponsored Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) as founding members. A surprising number of American allies, including Taiwan, South Korea, Germany, and Australia, joined over Washington’s objections, emboldened, it seems, by Great Britain’s decision to break ranks with Washington.

An unnamed American official disparaged London’s “constant accommodation” to Beijing’s interests.

The diplomat is right, of course. The British government has acquiesced to China’s refusal to allow democracy in Hong Kong. Prime Minister David Cameron has obsequiously courted access to trade with China by promising not to meet with the Dalai Lama. But Washington hasn’t stood up to China on Hong Kong or Tibet either. And it has stood by while China slowly but surely establishes military strong points throughout the South China Sea.

Arguably Washington’s behavior is worse since it actually has leverage it could use. But Washington hasn’t seemed interested lately. President Obama’s “pivot to Asia” is hollow. His Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade initiative, seems doomed to failure, thanks to a lack of a concerted effort by the president to lobby either Congress or his Democratic Party for support. Political reforms in Burma stalled years ago, while the administration surrendered its leverage by lifting sanctions. Militarily, the pivot is more sound than fury.

- You can read the remainder of this blog post for free at Democracy Road, FPI Senior Fellow Ellen Bork's blog at World Affairs Journal's website

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