“What? Us? No, we never said that,” was President Obama’s basic reaction to the suggestion that the U.S. is opposing the Chinese-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).
At a White House press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Tuesday, Obama blamed the now conventional wisdom that the U.S. is against the AIIB on a “misunderstanding based on a single story quoting unnamed sources,” according to the Wall Street Journal.
Obama went on to say he was “all for it” if the bank upheld high lending standards.
Of course, it would have been nice of him to clarify this weeks ago, instead of letting the U.S. look like a spiteful child trying to destroy China’s idea to fund building Asian infrastructure projects. By not disputing the notion that it was against the AIIB, the U.S. managed to hurt relations with countries that wanted to participate, especially the UK and South Korea. It also could have avoided nasty comments from former officials and the Chinese media.
The most noteworthy thing is that nobody seemed to care what the U.S. thought anyway. Countries are clamoring to join even though the project remains short on details.
As for which story created the misunderstanding, Obama declined to specify. But the Journal calls “bull” on the president. It said western economic officials had been telling the paper for months that the U.S. was “lobbying hard against the bank, including during teleconferences of the Group of Seven.”
Of course, just because the U.S. isn’t against it, doesn’t mean it plans to join. Let’s not get too excited.
Categories: Asia Unhedged