(Tokyo Shimbun: March 19, 2015 – p. 7)
By Mayumi Kojima in London, Yasuyuki Watanabe in Paris
Four major European nations – the UK, France, Germany, and Italy – have announced their participation in the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) despite the U.S.’s desperate efforts to stop them. Since Europe is far away from Asia and has less security concerns regarding China’s expansion, these countries have given priority to the motive of taking advantage of the growing Chinese and Asian markets.
The UK, which was the first one to announce its participation, put aside such issues as human rights in Tibet in its decision to move closer to China. In addition to the desire to do business in the growing China market, attracting Chinese money is also a major goal. Britain has been opening up to foreign companies in recent years. Foreign capital now dominates the electricity, water, and other infrastructure sectors.
Germany and France are suffering from slow growth after the Euro crisis, so the vigorous demand for infrastructure in Asia presents a major business opportunity. The German and French leaders have been visiting China in their desire to partake in the critical Chinese and Asian markets. Participation in the AIIB presents a rare opportunity for these countries to make China indebted to them by doing it a favor.
The U.S. and Japan are wary of China’s increasing presence in Asia and have been asking the European countries not to join the AIIB. However, Europe is not particularly concerned about the possibility of China becoming a security threat. (Abridged)