The World Bank last week removed a chapter of its latest report on China, saying it had not been properly reviewed. It seems that the chapter, “Special Topic: Reform Priorities in China’s Financial Sector” called China’s financial sector wasteful, poor performing, overly indebted and weakly regulated. Otherwise, fine. Since this characterization might make it more difficult for the International Monetary Fund to carry out its intended plan to endorse the renminbi as an official reserve currency, competitive with the dollar, China’ rulers were understandably upset. As they were with the Bank’s “China 2030” report in 2012.
Things were different then. In 2012 Robert Zoellick, appointed by George W. Bush, was president of the World Bank. Now, Barack Obama’s man, Jim Yong Kim heads the place. Zoellick took his cue from a president who, whatever his faults, was not famous for backing down in the face of an adversary. Kim, whatever his virtues, also seems to take his cue from his boss, this one not famous for vigorous responses to provocations by the Chinese regime. No man may be an island entire of itself, but the Chinese know that any coral reef can be an island, entirely owned by their military. This fact, and a lack of U.S. response, are not lost on our allies, who have rushed to join China’s new version of the World Bank, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, ignoring America’s urgings not to do so.