Since 1947 when it really started operations, the World Bank has acted as a branch of the U.S. Defense Department, from its first major chairman John J. McCloy through Robert McNamara to Robert Zoellick and neocon Paul Wolfowitz. From the outset, it has promoted U.S. exports – especially farm exports – by steering Third World countries to produce plantation crops rather than feeding their own populations. (They are to import U.S. grain.) But it has felt obliged to wrap its U.S. export promotion and support for the dollar area in an ostensibly internationalist rhetoric, as if what’s good for the United States is good for the world. Continue reading
In an influential speech in 2005, then-US deputy secretary of state Robert Zoellick called on China to become a “responsible stakeholder” in the international community. To optimists, China’s recent efforts in creating high-profile international development banks shows that it is gradually embracing that role.
China signed an agreement in July with the four other BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa – to create the New Development Bank (NDB) to provide loans and liquidity to member nations. Just three months later, Beijing pioneered the effort to create an Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) to finance development projects in the region. Twenty nations as diverse as Qatar, India, Singapore and Thailand signed on as founding members. China plans to provide the majority of the capital required to finance the new bank’s operations, with the headquarters located in Beijing.
The US and its allies view the China-backed AIIB with deep suspicion. It is an open secret that Washington has successfully pressured Australia and South Korea to refrain from joining the new development bank. What explains such hostility toward the Chinese effort to take a larger role in regional and global governance? Continue reading