Despite concerns voiced by its close ally the United States, Britain, a conventional Atlantic force, will become the first major Western economy to join a China proposed financing mechanism, which will explore investment opportunities in, mainly, Asia.
Downing Street believes its decision to apply to be a founding member of the China-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is “in the U.K.’s national interest.”
Domestic interests may not always be compatible with a country’s allies’ and, in this case, the ally of Britain chose to air concerns over, allegedly, looser lending standards for the environment, labor rights and financial transparency of the proposed bank.
The “unrivalled opportunity” for the United Kingdom, as seen by British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, is enviable, as financiers and industrialists widely expect total infrastructure investment of 8 trillion U.S. dollars in the coming decade in Asia. Not to mention the anticipated stable and handsome returns associated with infrastructure projects.
Other than the U.K., there are at least 27 bidders intending to be AIIB founding members, spanning East Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Middle East, to Oceania. All have shared the vision of faster-than-average growth in the years to come in Pacific Asia.