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Out of the Bretton Woods

How the AIIB is Different

Chinese President Xi Jinping meets with the delegates attending the signing ceremony for the Articles of Agreement of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing June 29, 2015.  Wang Zhao / Reuters

When China proposed the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in late 2013, it hoped to offer a regional alternative to the multilateral institutions of the Bretton Woods system that left Asia underrepresented. When 58 member nations bucked Washington’s warnings and joined the bank this year, including allies of the United States and G–7 stalwarts such as France, Germany, South Korea, and the United Kingdom, China realized that it had a potential vanguard for an alternative economic world order.

The creation of the AIIB means that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank—the two dominant players in development lending and international financial regulation—now have an Asian counterpart. Although all three banks seek to ensure global financial stability and foster economic growth in the developing world, they also actively promote the national interests and political worldviews of their most powerful members.

The similarities between the AIIB, the IMF, and

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