03/27/2015, 00.00
SOUTH KOREA – ASIA
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As South Korea joins Asian "Super Bank", Washington wavers

Proposed by Beijing, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank is designed to limit US influence in Asia and reduce Asia’s dependence on the International Monetary Fund. As South Korea accepts China’s predominance, the United States has to rethink what to do. Italy, Germany, France and Great Britain have already decided to join.

Seoul (AsiaNews) – After a long period of reflection, South Korea has decided to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), an Asian "Super Bank" proposed by Beijing in May 2014 as a way to limit US and European influence in the continent.

In Seoul, the Finance Ministry yesterday announced that South Korea accepted China’s plans for the financial institution, adding that it would “make efforts in close cooperation with the major countries to help the AIIB possess a high level of standards in the areas of responsibility, transparency, governing structure and debt sustainability".

South Korea had demanded improvement in relation to the governing structure of the bank. China has offered US$ 50 billion to the bank, which is expected to have a complex set of rules that would make it the main actor.

Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying has, however, dismissed the notion that Beijing sought – or gave up – veto power as an "impossible proposition."

With South Korea following Great Britain, Italy, France and Germany, who announced their participation at the start of the week, only the United States and Japan are left out.

Washington and Tokyo are the main stakeholders in the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank (ADB), and another Super Bank would break their hold on the developing world.

Through the latter, Beijing could offer free loans to Asian governments without string attached, like changes to domestic rules, political reform or long-term guarantees.

Beijing has used international for a like the United Nations, ASEAN and the Criminal Court in The Hague to defend its position on issues like Tibet, Xinjiang and Taiwan.

In it is also trying to impose its point of view in all its disputes in the East and South China Seas and on the border with India.

A Super Bank as an alternative to the ADB would marginalise the US in Asia, and weaken the ‘Washington Consensus’, which underlies US hegemony in Asia and the world.

The US government, which initially showed little interest in the new institution, is now wavering.

A source in the State Department said that the US was studying the situation in view of its new members. It is not certain that it would stay out.

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