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Development Finance Emerges as the Newest Front in China’s Standoff With the U.S.

Chinese President Xi Jinping didn’t mention the United States by name when he addressed the opening of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank’s annual meeting this week, but he didn’t really have to in order to get his point across.

Just as he did in his speech to the World Health Assembly in May, the Chinese president leaned heavily on references to multilateralism and globalism in his AIIB address on Tuesday, in an apparent effort to draw a contrast between China and the more unilateral approach adopted by the United States (to be fair, U.S. officials reject that characterization). 

“China always supports and adheres to multilateralism, and pursues development with the rest of the world,” said President Xi in his video address. These comments should probably be interpreted as the kind of subtle critique of the U.S. that is now common in the president’s foreign policy remarks.

One other notable point from the president’s address was his call for the AIIB to adhere to “international standards” which has been a longstanding complaint regarding China’s bilateral lending practices in Africa and other developing regions, where the lack of transparency in loan negotiations remains a paramount concern.

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