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China and AIIB Move Ahead; Major European Nations Join the Bank

March 16, 2015 (EIRNS)—The China-initiated Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is becoming more and more clearly a central institution for global economic progress and growth in the decades ahead.

Following the British decision March 12 to become the 28th founding nation of the AIIB, other countries which had been forced by Obama Administration threats and pressure to stay out of the development bank, have joined or are rethinking doing so.

The Financial Times late today reported "according to European officials," that "France, Germany, and Italy have all agreed to follow Britain’s lead and join a China-led international development bank ... delivering a blow to Obama Administration efforts to keep leading western countries out of the new institution." The newspaper reported that Britain "tried to gain ‘first-mover advantage’ last week by signing up ... before other G7 members."

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said at a press conference March 15 that Australia will decide within weeks whether to join the AIIB.

"I note that the U.K. has indicated an intention to sign up for the negotiations, the New Zealanders before Christmas signed up for the negotiations, the Singaporeans likewise, the Indians likewise. We’re looking very carefully at this and well make a decision in the next week or so,"

Abbott was quoted as saying in The Australian daily. The Korea Times reported today that the South Korean government will decide within days.

Earlier March 16, the Financial Times had carried a lengthy op-ed by Peterson Institute director emeritus C. Fred Bergsten, saying the United States should join, as it has been invited to do by Chinese President Xi Jinping. Peterson Institute has been known for two decades in Washington for forecasting disasters and breakups for the Chinese economy. But now Bergsten’s view is titled,

"U.S. Should Work with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Washington Should Sign Up and Bless the Desire of Its Friends To Join."

The U.K. decision to join AIIB, Bergsten wrote,

"sparked an angry response in Washington, a sorry development that reflects the huge mistake the U.S. has made in opposing a bank aimed at helping to meet Asia’s need for trillions of dollars of investment in energy, power, transportation, telecommunications and other infrastructure sectors.... The U.S. should reverse course. It should join the bank and persuade Congress to provide the small amounts needed to fund a minority share. It should bless the desire of its friends in Asia and Europe to join."

China itself will release its implementation plan for hundreds of major infrastructure projects along the Silk Road "Belt and Road" at the Boao Forum for Asia March 26-29, Xinhua reports today. The annual Boao Forum’s theme this year is "Asia’s New Future: Towards a Community of Common Destiny."

"Sources told Xinhua that the implementation plan will include a detailed list of major infrastructure projects concerning railways, roads, energy, information technology and industrial parks to be started in the coming years. The number of these major infrastructure projects could reach hundreds and will spread across Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Pakistan and China’s other neighboring countries, said the sources,"

reported Xinhua. China’s western province "Xinjiang, located in the center of Asia, is the gateway to the Silk Road, and it will play an integral role in China-Europe exchanges."