A senior U.S. official has expressed skepticism about a new regional development bank that China wants to set up as a counterbalance to the Asian Development Bank led by the United States and Japan, Yonhap News Agency reported from Washington on Monday.
When asked whether the United States would ask South Korea to exercise caution about joining the bank, Sydney Seiler, director for Korea at the National Security Council, said in a telephone interview with Yonhap, "Even without asking Korea to do so, all countries who have been involved in contributing to and working with the ADB and the World Bank have similar questions."
The remark has been interpreted as a message for South Korea not to join the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank.
During a summit in Seoul last week, China formally asked South Korea to join the bank, and the South responded positively, saying such a bank would facilitate regional economic development and growth, and the country would consider the proposal, Yonhap said.
Meanwhile, Japan has told China that it is reluctant to accept an invitation to be one of the founding members of the AIIB, which China aims to establish to boost funding for infrastructure projects, according to Japanese government sources.
Tokyo's stance on the issue may affect how other countries respond to Beijing's bid to expand its influence in the Asia-Pacific region.
"When it comes to the need for a financial institution that would be involved in infrastructure development, we do have the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, and they are established development banks," Seiler told Yonhap.